Precede TIRANA Opposition Leader, Two Others Shot Dead in Unrest
Apr. 02, 1991
SHKODRA, Albania (AP) _ A Democratic Party leader and two other people were killed today during an anti-Communist demonstration in this northern Albanian city.
Police opened fire on the protesters outside the local Communist Party headquarters, an action the Interior Ministry said was required because demonstrators were endangering those inside the building.
Eyewitnesses said local Democratic Party leader Arben Broci, 24, was shot in the back from inside the Communist headquarters as he tried to calm the angry crowd.
A small group of armed civilians and riot police were inside the party headquarters, the witnesses said.
Eugen Zeka, a 17-year-old student who had been in the crowd, quoted Broci as saying they should ''keep calm and be quiet.''
But then, Zeka said, ''Ben was shot from the windows of the party building.''
The crowd then torched the party building. Tanks later moved into the streets of the city of 70,000 some 60 miles north of the Albanian capital of Tirana.
It was the first violence tied to Sunday's elections, which were won by the Communist Party. The balloting was the first multi-party election in this small Balkan country in more than 60 years.
The Interior Ministry confirmed reports by the Democratic Party that three people were killed outside Communist Party headquarters in Shkodra. The ministry said 23 people - 12 police and 11 civilians - were injured.
Genc Pollo, a Democratic Party spokesman in Tirana, said 58 people were injured, four of them seriously.
The Democratic Party identified the two other people killed in Shkodra as Bujar Zerberi and Besnik Ceka. It was not clear whether they were opposition officials or participants in the demonstration.
Officials today released final results of Sunday's elections. The Party of Labor - the official name of the Communists - won 162 of the 250 seats, the Central Election Commission reported.
The Democrats won 65 seats, an ethnic Greek minority party won three seats and the National Veterans Committee, a Communist front organization, won one.
Runoff elections will be held next Sunday and April 14 for 19 other seats.
In Tirana today, riot police with plastic shields, helmets and batons tried to persuade a crowd outside Democratic Party headquarters to disperse. The crowd did not leave, but despite the tense atmosphere police did not use force.
Albania is struggling to emerge from nearly five decades of repression and international isolation and the elections were called and opposition political parties allowed after a huge emigration movement and street protests.
The election marked the first time that the ruling Communists, who seized power in 1946, had faced an opposition challenge. They won about two-thirds of the seats.
Many people have expressed fears that the increased polarization that resulted from the Communist victory could translate into violence. Democratic Party leaders Sali Berisha and Gramoz Pashko had appealed to their disappointed supporters on Monday to be calm.
The demonstration in Shkodra was the second in two days to protest the Communists' overall victory on Sunday.
Hundreds of students from a middle school had begun a sit-down protest outside the Communist Party headquarters and were later joined by workers, the journalist Ruka quoted the Shkodra Democrats as saying.
He said the workers chanted ''Get out 3/8 We are for the Democratic Party 3/8'' Police arrived to disperse the protesters and shot into the air. Broci then arrived to try to calm people and appeal to them to disperse, and was shot, Ruka said.
Pollo also reported several other disturbances.
In the central city of Elbasan, an unexploded bomb was found in the Democratic Party headquarters, while in the village of Vaqarr near Tirana the chairman of the Democratic Party was beaten up, he said.