Bomb blast injures Macedonian President

SASA PESEV

Associated Press

Skopje - A car bomb exploded in central Skopje yesterday as the car of the Macedonian President, Kiro Gligorov, passed by, injuring the leader of the Balkan republic and killing his driver.

Macedonia, formerly part of Yugoslavia, is potentially a tinder box. Fears that the violence which has swept Bosnia and Croatia could also envelop Macedonia have already led the United Nations to put in peace-keeping forces

Doctors said they had operated on Mr Gligorov, 78, for head injuries, and Saso Ordanoski, director of Macedonian television said the President had lost his right eye. Official sources said that on Macedonia's request, a French medical team arrived to help care for the President."For now, Gligorov's life is not in danger," an official police statement said. Doctors said any head injury was serious for a man of Mr Gligorov's age.

Police said that the President's driver, Alexander Spirovski, was killed. His security officer and five pedestrians were injured when the remote- control bomb exploded.

About 45lb of explosives were packed into the boot of an old Citroen and Mr Gligorov's armoured Mercedes took the brunt of the blast. Television film showed the car with its front right door ripped open, and Mr Gligorov's rear right door closed, but penetrated by metal shards. A man who appeared to be badly injured was lying on the pavement, gesturing for help.

Witnesses at the scene of the blast, near the Bristol Hotel, in the centre of the city, said most windows as high as the ninth floor on nearby buildings were shattered by the explosion, which occurred at about 9.30am. The site is about 100 yards from Mr Gligorov's offices.

Police said two suspects in their mid 20s were arrested, but their identities were not known. No one immediately claimed responsibility. Borders were sealed for several hours after the explosion, but were later reopened, police said. Thorough checks were being made of travel documents. Police sources said that anti-terrorism experts from the United States were to help in the investigation.

Macedonia gained independence in the break-up of the old Yugoslav federation, but has found independence difficult. The republic has a large ethnic Albanian minority and is a historic point of contention for neighbouring Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Albania.

About 1,000 US soldiers are stationed on Macedonia's northern border with Serbia in the UN's first precautionary peace-keeping mission. Despite its volatile politics, Macedonia has largely been peaceful.

Local media speculated the bomb might be the work of Macedonian nationalists who are strongly opposed to compromises with the republic's neighbours.

Mr Gligorov was a leading Communist official in former Yugoslavia, and was elected Macedonian President in 1992. He returned on Monday from a one-day trip to Belgrade, where he had talks with Serbia's President, Slobodan Milosevic, on mutual recognition of the two former Yugoslav states.

Mr Gligorov said mutual recognition between rump Yugoslavia and Macedonia was expected by early November, but suggested it depended on a peace agreement for Bosnia.

Serbia has not recognised its southern neighbour because of border disputes and solidarity with Greece, which claimed Macedonia has territorial aspirations on its province bearing the same name.

Greece condemned the attack on Mr Gligorov. A spokesman, Telemachos Hytiris, expressed the government's "abhorrence and condemnation" of the attack, and relief that Mr Gligorov had survived. Bulgaria also condemned the attack, as did the German Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel.

Macedonia and Greece signed a US-brokered agreement on 13 September, under which Greece recognised its northern neighbour without recognising its name.

Greece will also lift an 18-month trade embargo after Macedonia changes its flag to delete an ancient Greek symbol, and declares that its constitution does not imply claims on Greek territory.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

ICT Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a qualified ...

DT Design and Technology Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are urgently for ...

Maths Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experienc...

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on