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Bomb hits cafe owned by Albanian opposition leader

June 2, 1997

TIRANA, Albania (AP) _ A bomb exploded today in a cafe owned by an Albanian opposition leader, hurling people from the second floor of the building. Hospital workers said 16 people were injured.

The blast shattered the cafe, which is about 30 feet from the Defense Ministry and 60 feet from the Socialist Party headquarters. Those two buildings escaped damage in the blast, which added to the chaos in the rebellion-wracked capital of Tirana.

Police initially said some of the injured were seriously hurt, but hospital workers said later that none of the injuries appeared critical.

Police offered no suggestions about a possible motive for the bombing.

The lease-holder for the property, Arjan Shameta, said he believed the bombing was related to the political affiliation of the cafe’s owner, Lush Perpali, a leader of the Socialist Party and a high-ranking official in the Interior Ministry.

The Socialists are the main opposition to the Democratic Party of President Sali Berisha, who is opposed by a large part of the population, mostly in the south.

Albania has been riven by five months of unrest and lawlessness originating in public anger over failed investment schemes in which most Albanians had invested. Many blame Berisha for failing to protect them from the schemes.

International mediators persuaded rival political parties last month to take part in general elections scheduled for June 29 and hoped the polling would end the unrest.

But with half of the country out of government control and almost 1 million weapons in the hands of the people, it is unlikely that elections will meet generally accepted European standards.

The south of the country, home to most of the schemes, is enemy territory for Berisha’s Democratic Party. The north, which is mostly pro-Berisha, is hostile to the Socialists. Tirana is in the center of the country.

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