Albania

Three die in Albanian anti-government protest

Reuters / Arben Celi

Three people were killed Friday in Albania in clashes between anti-government protesters and police in the centre of Tirana. Demonstrators threw stones at the security forces who responded with tear gas.

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Three people were brought to the city's military hospital with fatal gunshot wounds, according to hospital officials. Another 55 were injured, including 25 police officers and 30 civilians.

It is unclear who shot the demonstrators, but Prime Minister Sali Berisha said they had been killed by weapons that police and the army "do not use". He blamed the protest's organisers for the violence.

Several thousand people gathered in the capital after a call from the socialist opposition to protest against Berisha's government.

Demonstrators started throwing stones and other projectiles at the security forces who responded by firing tear gas into the crowd in front of the government buildings.

The socialist opposition, led by Tirana mayor Edi Rama, called the demonstration to put pressure on the government to step down, accusing it of corruption and electoral fraud.

The demonstration follows the resignation last week of deputy prime minister Ilir Meta, who is at the centre of a corruption affair.

Ahead of the clashes the US embassy slammed some politicians' apparent support for violent protest as "unacceptable".

"In recent days the rhetoric and the language of selected political leaders have assumed a tone that suggests an endorsement of disruptive and harmful acts and inappropriate conduct," it said in a statement.

"The use of provocative rhetoric and the suggestion or tolerance of any form of violence is a deep disservice to the people of Albania."

Albania has been in prolonged political deadlock since the elections last year as the opposition has refused to recognise the results of the vote, blocking legislation and reforms in parliament.
 

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