Saturday, 22 January 2011
Riots in Albania
21 January 2011 - TIRANA, Albania – Thousands of people held an anti-government demonstration in Albania's capital on Friday, and at least three people were killed and scores wounded as police using tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons clashed with the protesters.
At least 15 police vehicles were overturned and burned by the more than 20,000 people who took part in the largest and most violent protest that Tirana had seen in years.
"Get Out! Get Out!" the demonstrators shouted as they battled the riot police outside Conservative Prime Minister Sali Berisha's office in the capital. Other protesters carried red-and-black Albanian flags.
Berisha accused the opposition Socialists, who called the protest, of trying to overthrow the government with a "Tunisian-style" demonstration — referring to the rioting that just toppled Tunisia's government.
Berisha, who said he was at his office when the protest erupted, rejected opposition demands for early elections. He also alleged that the demonstrators included "gangs of criminals, bandits, traffickers and terrorists."
Hundreds of riot police and national guard officers swept through the center of the capital, beating protesters with batons and detaining dozens of youths. By Friday night, most of the demonstrators had left the city's main boulevard.
Health officials said at least three people were shot and killed, and authorities said more than 130 police and demonstrators were injured.
Tensions have been mounting for months between Albania's government and the Socialists, and they rose sharply this week when the country's deputy prime minister, Ilir Meta, resigned amid an alleged corruption scandal.
Posted by sysiphus at 10:53