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  Weapons stockpile
  Ageing weapons are repeatedly used in conflict
 
 
  Looting weapons:

• In Spring 1997, Albanians looted more than 500,000 military weapons from government.
• Only a third of the stolen weapons have been recovered.
 
 
 
   
Internet Links
 
 
    BBC: Macedonia country profile
 
 
    Macedonia Information Centre Daily News Service
 
 
     
 
 
  Gun smuggling in Macedonia

In spring 2001 Ethnic Albanian guerrillas, calling themselves the National Liberation Army (NLA), launched a series of attacks against Macedonian security forces.

Their aim was to win concessions for their communities - and so correct what they saw as institutional discrimination.

One hundred and fifty people were killed in a conflict, which simmered for most of the summer. A country which had seemed to be an oasis of calm in a region of ethnic strife, suddenly looked decidedly fragile.

How the NLA were able to get hold of the weapons with which to launch the war became a major consideration. Estimates of the number of small arms in NLA hands vary from 50,000 to 100,000. These guns helped bring conflict to a region sorely in need of political stability.

After the Macedonian war, the NLA were sourcing weapons from all over the place - including Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia. They were able to use ethnic-Albanian contacts to find and buy guns and ammunition - much of it leftover from previous wars in the region. The most important source was neighbouring Albania.

Following the collapse of pyramid investment schemes and consequent anarchy, which engulfed the country in 1997, the people of Albania looted hundreds of thousands of weapons from military depots across the country. These arms fell into civilian hands and helped fuel several months of violence.

With the advent of the Kosovo conflict in 1998, smugglers were able to buy up Albanian rifles and ammunition and arrange for them to be carried northwards across the border. These arms were delivered to the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a guerrilla group fighting for autonomy from the Serbian regime in Belgrade.
 
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