Macedonia's foreign minister is dismissing allegations that a recent battle between ethnic Albanian gunmen and police is linked with one of the deepest political crises the country has faced in its 24 years of independence.

Speaking to The Associated Press in an interview Friday, Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki said, however, that the presence of an armed group in the border town of Kumanovo showed that the country's northern border with Kosovo was vulnerable.

The fighting, which began last Saturday, left 22 people dead and 37 wounded after police launched an operation on a house used by the gunmen. Some among the gunmen wore the insignia of now-disbanded ethnic Albanian rebel groups that fought against Serb and Macedonian forces in the late 1990s and early 2000s.