Hundreds of stone-throwing ethnic Albanians protesting a court ruling clashed Friday with Macedonian police, who fired water cannon and tear gas at the crowd to prevent them from storming a court building.
Police said about 2,000 people gathered in Macedonia’s capital, Skopje, to protest the life sentences imposed this week on six ethnic Albanian Muslims convicted of murdering five Christian fishermen, in an alleged plot to destabilize the country. The six men deny the charges and their lawyers said there was no material evidence against them.
The Easter 2012 shootings of the fishermen, in a lake near Skopje, fueled simmering tensions between Macedonia’s Christian Orthodox majority population and the mostly Muslim ethnic Albanian minority.
Police said 20 policemen and several protesters were injured in the clashes, which followed Friday prayers at a mosque.
Police spokesman Ivo Kotevski said six people were detained on suspicion of taking part in the clashes.