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Leader of rebellion in Macedonia is Swiss resident

The Macedonian army and police have been fighting ethnic Albanian rebels in the Tetovo region

(Keystone)

A leading figure in the ethnic Albanian rebellion in Macedonia is a long-time resident of Switzerland, swissinfo has learned. Fasili Veliu played a key role in the Kosovo conflict and recently travelled to the Balkans to take up arms against the Macedonian government.

Veliu has proclaimed himself political leader of the National Army of Liberation of the Macedonian Albanians (LCK), and has been one the leading actors in the Tetovo rebellion in Macedonia over the past few days.

Swissinfo has learned that he is a resident of Emmenbrücke in canton Lucerne, and recently left Switzerland to lead the ethnic Albanian revolt in Macedonia.

A prominent Albanian nationalist, Veliu was a key figure in the Kosovo conflict and looked after financial and logistical support for the Kosovo Liberation Army as well as propaganda.

Veliu has recently proclaimed himself political leader of the Tetovo insurrection. His recent protests about ethnic Albanians being an "oppressed population" have been widely covered in newspapers in Kosovo and Albania.

But he has also claimed that he respects Macedonia's territorial integrity and that he is solely concerned with securing rights for the ethnic Albanian minority, which makes up close to a quarter of the country's population.

Veliu could face arrest on an international warrant issued by Macedonia if he returns to Switzerland. Skopje accuses him of terrorist activities in 1997 and 1998, including the murder of a policeman.

The warrant was dropped a year ago, but Macedonia says it has now been reactivated - something the Swiss federal police have refused to confirm.

swissinfo


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