By KONSTANTIN TESTORIDES
2010-05-15 03:58 AM
Authorities here say ethnic Albanian criminal gangs are using weapons hidden after a 2001 insurgency and may have taken refuge in Kosovo.
Interior Minister Gordana Jankulovska said she had taken the action Friday following the incident and several large weapons seizures in the uneasy border region.
She said her government had a list of about 70 people accused of illegal trafficking in weapons and drugs and violent crimes. Several of them had already been sentenced in absentia up to 20 years.
"Cross-border crime cannot be fought effectively without good cooperation," she said.
But Kosovo's Interior Minister Bajram Rexhepi denied that his government tolerated suspected criminals, arguing that members of powerful crime gangs typically can connections with various countries in the region.
Raids for weapons seizures continued outside the northern city of Tetovo Friday.
Four people _ a 59-year-old man and his three sons _ were arrested for illegal weapons possession, police said.
Authorities said the suspects were linked to the group of gunmen killed in a shootout near the village of Radusa earlier this week.
Police seized three machine-guns, land mines, explosives and assorted ammunition in the raid, claiming the weapons were also left over from the 2001 insurgency.