“This is part of a game of chess. Some make protests, others make killings,” said Davor, talking about the situation in his hometown of Kumanovo as we rode in on a bus just after noon on Sunday. By then the town had played host to intense shootouts between police and armed men for more than 24 hours. By the end of the day it would be announced that the fighting had claimed the lives of eight police officers and 14 gunmen. Yet none of the bus’s passengers seemed the least bit anxious.
On arrival in Kumanovo the mood was much the same. A wedding procession of cars with ribbons on their bonnets drove through the streets, honking their horns. Yards away on the pavement policemen looked on, assault rifles at the ready. In the words of Macedonian Red Cross worker Oliver Gickevski, “People are living like it’s normal, but nothing is normal.” Gickevski and his colleagues were in town to provide humanitarian aid to Kumanovo residents displaced by the fighting.
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