At least 19 injured in Macedonia anti-government protest

Skopje (AFP) - At least 19 people were injured Tuesday, including 15 police officers and a photographer, when an anti-government protest in Macedonian capital turned violent.

Police used teargas and watercannon to disperse some 1,000 people who gathered in front of the government building in Skopje following an opposition leader's accusation that the cabinet of conservative Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski had covered up the 2011 murder of a 22-year old man beaten by police during post-election celebrations.

Chanting "Murderers! Murderers!" and demanding the government's resignation, protesters threw objects and broke windows at the government building, crashed cars parked nearby and torched several containers.

Fifteen of the injured were police officers, interior ministry spokesman Ivo Kotevski told AFP, adding that protesters hurled hard objects at the police and that the number of those injured could rise.

Political tensions in Macedonia have been running high since January when the government brought charges against main opposition party leader Zoran Zaev and four outher people, accusing them of espionage and violence against officials.

Zaev rejected the accusations and instead claimed the government was wiretapping at least 20,000 people, including politicians, journalists and religious leaders.

The stand-off has thrown the country into a deep political crisis, prompting the European Union to call for dialogue.

Zaev's centre-left Social Democrats have been boycotting parliament for almost a year, alleging electoral fraud in April 2014 polls.

The opposition announced a massive anti-government rally in mid-May.

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