29 July 2005

Vratnica attack said done by Krasniqi group, Bit Pazar by a Saudi

BBC Monitoring, July 20, 2005, Wednesday

Text of report by Tomislav Kezarovski entitled "Krasniqi was shooting in Vratnica, Shiti in Bit Pazar" published by Macedonian newspaper Vecer on 20 July.

Agim Krasniqi's group was involved in the terrorist attack in Vratnica, whereas the group of Ramadan Shiti, a convict on the loose, planted the plastic explosive in the Bit Pazar [Flea Market] police station. Vecer has learned these details of the investigation into the attacks on the two police stations. The two groups are still hiding in Kondovo, where, according to intelligence sources, there are between 50 and 70 armed men, mostly young. Most of them are local residents but they also have great support from their Kosovo associates. Therefore, the MVR [Macedonian Interior Ministry] is employing a strategy, it is keeping quiet and choosing the right moment to carry out the operation in Kondovo because the state leadership gave it a free hand last week.

The investigation into the Bit Pazar attack indicates that the explosive was made and planted by a foreigner because few people in the country know how to deal with "plastic". The fact that the attack was actually a message to the government shows that a "professional" was involved. The investigation shows that the assailant followed the security officer in the police station and had only two minutes to plant the explosive, taking into account that there were no unnecessary victims. During the investigation, the name of criminal Ramadan Shiti emerged. Shiti, along with his eight-member group, has so far been operating independently from Krasniqi. The MVR has information that Shiti is related to Islamic terrorists from the Middle East. Operative data say that he was expelled from Saudi Arabia under suspicion of preparing an attack on a prominent person.

Unofficial reports indicate that Shiti's group has "raised the temperature" over the past three days in two or three police stations in Skopje by threatening, in writing, that they will blow them up. The police assess that domestic fundamentalists, who also influence developments in the Islamic Religious Community, support Shiti. Their assessments are identical to those of the US intelligence services. This makes both sides anxious, especially after the threats of new attacks, although they proved to be false.

Agim Krasniqi, for his part, allegedly did not know anything at all about the Bit Pazar incident on Friday [15 July].

SOURCE: Vecer, Skopje, in Macedonian 20 Jul 05 p 6