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NATO slams offensive in Macedonia

Houses in the village of Aracinovo were damaged in the shelling
Houses in the village of Aracinovo were damaged in the shelling  


ARACINOVO, Macedonia -- NATO Secretary General George Robertson has denounced renewed fighting between Macedonian forces and ethnic Albanian rebels as "complete folly."

As government troops engaged in a day-long bombardemnt of a key village held by ethnic Albanian rebles, the NATO chief demanded that the "madness" stop.

The latest offensive spells the end of the troubled 11 day ceasefire -- and comes as political leaders try to save the deadlocked peace talks.

CNN's Juliette Terzieff said: "The fresh offensive undermines the efforts of Western diplomats to avert a war in this small Balkan nation."

A rebel leader known as Commander Hohxa said that three civilians were killed and many wounded, including one rebel fighter, in Friday's attack.

He accused the Macedonian army of breaking the week-old truce and promised to fight back.

"I'm warning the government if they want war they're going to get one," he said by telephone from Aracinovo. "We will defend ourselves."

The Associated Press reported that hundreds of refugees were fleeing from Macedonia into Kosovo on Friday.

The army attacked