US citizens in North Macedonia (formerly Macedonia) should be vigilant amid the heightened risk of extremist-inspired terrorist attacks, the State Department said in a travel alert on Friday.

“There is a heightened risk of terrorist attacks inspired by extremist ideology in North Macedonia”, the alert said. “Terrorist organizations and individuals inspired by extremist ideology are intent on attacking civilians, including US citizens traveling abroad”.

In 2015, violent clashes took place in Macedonia’s town of Kumanovo between the police and an armed group of Albanian radicals, leaving 18 people dead and dozens wounded. After that, a total of 28 people were arrested on suspicion of terrorism by the Macedonian authorities.

The Kumanovo clashes came reportedly weeks after an attack in the Macedonian village of Gosince near the border with Kosovo, where dozens of gunmen seized the local police station, calling for the establishment of an Albanian state within Macedonia.

Moreover, according to local media reports, dozens of Macedonian citizens have joined Islamist groups in the Middle East over the past few years with dozens killed and others returning to the country. 

Meanwhile, Macedonian authorities have launched the process of officially renaming the country to the Republic of North Macedonia in accordance with the Prespa agreement with Greece that took effect on 12 February.

In June, Skopje and Athens signed an agreement on the new name that was met with criticism in Greece and Macedonia itself. However, the parliament of Macedonia approved amendments to the constitution on 11 January. The Greek parliament has ratified the agreement.

Greece has its own region called Macedonia, so it has been objecting to Skopje’s use of the name. The dispute prevented Skopje from pursuing membership in some international organizations, such as the European Union and NATO.

Tags: ; ; ; ; ; ;