Some policemen sustained injuries when Orthodox Christians clashed with ethnic Albanians in the Macedonian capital Skopje over the erection of a 55-metre-high metal cross, media reports said Saturday.

Hundreds of Orthodox Christians tried to drive back Albanian Macedonians who had gathered late Friday at the site where the cross is to be located.

There was a strong police presence to keep the two sides apart. Officers were pelted with stones.

The massive cross is in response to a huge double eagle, the national symbol of Albania, that had been erected in a neighbouring district of the city. There have been previous clashes over the plan.

Civil unrest broke out between ethic Albanians and Slavs in the former Yugoslav republic 15 years ago. Albanians are estimated to make up around 30 per cent of the 2 million population of Macedonia.

The tiny Balkan country, which has closed its borders to the wave of migrants from Greece hoping to head northwards towards richer Western European countries, is experiencing political turmoil.

Snap elections have been called for June 5 to try and resolve the political tensions.

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