Balkan Group a Real Threat or Just Cybermilitants?
A mysterious militant group threatening a spring offensive for ethnic Albanian rights has claimed responsibility for recent violence that has raised fears of renewed bloodshed in the Balkans. But diplomats and Macedonian officials believe the Albanian National Army (ANA) may be little more than Internet-savvy criminals and play down any talk of possible new conflicts like those that gripped the country and nearby south Serbia in 2001. “They are village gangsters, dressing up in uniforms and calling themselves ANA. Criminal groups…some of them seem to hide under the flag of a political movement,” a senior NATO diplomat said. Macedonian Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski took a similar line, but also made clear he took any threats seriously. “We must not overlook credible threats,” he said. “The danger still lurks although it originates from criminal gangs.” ANA has issued several hardline statements on its Web site (www.aksh.org), stating its opposition to Western-sponsored peace deals that ended ethnic Albanian insurgencies in Macedonia and southern Serbia’s Presevo Valley. Saying it wants to unite Albanian lands, it claimed responsibility for an incident in the Presevo Valley on Sunday in which a Serb policeman was killed and two others were injured when their vehicle struck a landmine on a remote dirt road. Earlier this month, it said it blew up a court house in the western Macedonian town of Struga and has also said it was behind other incidents in the country over the last two years. Full Story