Hundreds of people have gathered in Macedonia's capital to protest the heavy prison sentences given to members of a militant ethnic Albanian separatist group.

A Macedonian court last week sentenced eight people to life and 26 others to 12-40 years in over a 2015 gun battle that left eight police officers and 10 militants dead.

Protesters outside the court building in Skopje on Sunday demanded an independent inquiry and chanted "UCK," the acronym of the disbanded National Liberation Army.

The ethnic Albanian militant organization staged a nine-month insurgency in Macedonia in 2001. Macedonia has a large ethnic Albanian minority, which comprises one-quarter of the country's population of 2.1 million.