At least eight armed men were killed during an exchange of fire with police on Wednesday during an operation against fugitives in western Macedonia, news reaching here from Skopje said.
"The criminal group has been broken up, and no policemen were injured in the operation," said an Interior Ministry spokesman, Ivo Kotevski.
The operation, launched in the early hours of the morning, was against a criminal group led by a man named Lirim Jakupi, who escaped from a high- security prison in western Kosovo more than two months ago.
The spokesman said the group was holed up in the mountain village of Brodec near the mainly Albanian-populated city of Tetovo, about 40 km west of the capital Skopje.
He said the operation was still ongoing, with checkpoints set up on access roads and police helicopters hovering over the area.
Lirim Jakupi, alias "Nazi," fled to Kosovo province two years ago after a shootout with Macedonian police in Tetovo and was arrested by United Nations forces in the province.
He was a member of the underground Albanian National Army and was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being tried in absentia in Serbia.