A trial has started in Macedonia of 29 men charged with terrorism-related offences in connection with a two-day shootout with police in 2015 that left 18 dead, including eight police officers.

Last May's shootout in the border town of Kumanovo came after a group of gunmen briefly seized control of a police station on the Macedonia-Kosovo border. The gunmen surrendered after two days of fighting which left 18 dead, 42 policemen injured and damaged dozens of homes.

The 29 have been charged with terrorism and participating in a terrorist organization. Seventeen are residents of neighboring Kosovo, one is from Albania and the remaining 11 are Macedonian ethnic Albanians.

The fighting in ethnically mixed Kumanovo was the worst since 2001, when an ethnic Albanian insurgency nearly developed into all-out civil war.