There were still groups of people standing near the food market in Suto Orizari yesterday morning. Some were standing near the mosque, some at the clinic, and others at the end of the food market. They say that they fear for their children, so they take them to school, and they pick them up when their classes are over and, in the meantime, keep their eyes open for suspicious people passing through the settlement.
“There have been four attempts of kidnapping since New Year’s. It is very dangerous, we were forced to self-organize,” they explain.
Monday’s drama that ended with injuries that were life threatening for a police officer, as well as a series of arrests over the attack, has left some of yesterday’s key questions unanswered: What were these police officers doing that evening in Sutka, why they drove a jeep without license plates, why didn’t they show their IDs etc.
Minister Oliver Spasovski said yesterday that police officers that are off duty are free to go wherever they want. The day before, the head of the Ministry of Interior said police officers were not officially on duty, and arrived in the settlement after reading about an alleged kidnapping on Facebook.
“Two police officers were injured, who were not on duty at that moment, but privately they were in Suto Orizari after previously receiving a report about an alleged kidnapping in the municipality. They received the report via Facebook, and so far no charges have been filed for such an incident,” said Interior Minister Spasovski.
Seven people have been arrested and criminal charges will be filed against them, while the Ministry of Interior say that they are working on identifying several other assailants.
It is difficult to reconstruct Monday’s events in times when parents in Sutka are furious and overwhelmed. In a panic for the safety of their children, each “exaggerated” statement gets a striking background. After a conversation with a dozen inhabitants of the settlement, we are trying to get a general idea of the events from three days ago.
Around 17 o’clock, a teenage girl walking along Indira Gandhi Street noted that two masked men with balaclavas tried to snatch a girl from the stairway in front of the Health Center.
“They grabbed her arms, they wanted to cover her mouth with a handkerchief and push her in a van. But bystanders began shouting, another vehicle showed up, so the kidnappers fled. The news began to spread and in a few minutes we, dozens of parent, gathered. We went to take our children out of school. We were frightened to death,” said residents of Sutka.
Classes ended around 17:15, and parents, along with their children, gathered on the main street in front of the food market to discuss what to do next, given that such attempts of kidnapping have happened before.
“We did not report it to the police, because we know that there’s no use, but we decided to protect ourselves. We have police officers in the neighborhood, as well as friends working in security agencies. We called them, we gathered hundreds of people,” said residents of Sutka.
Around 17.30, on the street from the mosque to the food market, a black jeep with no license plates approached.
“It looked like it wasn’t going to stop, so we stood in the street to stop the car, and we also blocked the road with another car,” they say.
There were three male persons in the jeep. The co-driver opened the window of the vehicle and said he was a police officer.
“He did not show a badge. But we said no problem. We called a friend – a police chief, we told him that there are civilians presenting themselves as police officers. He told us to put him on the phone. He asked who and what he was, the man told him that he really was his colleague. The other two were quite,” residents said.
Suspicions began to rise when the threesome in the jeep refused to step out of the car and did not even allow the gathered people to open the tailgate and see what’s inside.
“With the use of a little persuasion and some violence we managed to open it. We saw balaclavas, a shovel and even removed license plates from the Netherlands. We asked them: Why do you need all this? They didn’t give us an answer. Two of the three stepped out and tried to escape. Where were they planning to escape with so many people around them, and in our neighborhood? We caught them. It is not right that some have hit them, they have injured them. We cannot claim that they are the kidnappers or are part of the network, but it was too suspicious,” residents of Suto Orizari claim.
Officially, police announced on Tuesday that they received a report on Monday evening that an underaged girl allegedly saw some unidentified people violently forcing a female person into a van. A large group of citizens soon gathered, and then the Hyundai Galloper car came passing through, with A.R. (34) from Skopje and F.K. (24) from Dolno Blace, Skopje.
“These are police officers who were not on duty. With them was B.K. (39) also from Dolno Blace, when they were attacked by the gathered citizens. F.K. and B.K. were seriously injured and were transferred to the City General Hospital ‘September 8th’ and the Mother Teresa Clinic complex. A.R. also had physical injuries. A police officer who was acting on duty was also injured at the scene,” the Interior Ministry said.
The police offcier that had minor injuries was put on home treatment, while the heavily injured MoI officer was diagnosed with injuries in the head area, with contusion and concussion. He is in a coma and is attached to breathing apparatus. The third injured person is placed at the Clinic of Neurosurgery.