Shooting erupted late Friday at a military academy in the Albanian capital where cadets reportedly were guarding a bust of the late dictator Enver Hoxha. State television said at least four people were killed.
The brief television report said one of the victims in Tirana was a policeman. The three others were not identified, but they apparently died in a clash between anti-Communist demonstrators and supporters of the founder of Stalinist Albania.Fifty people were arrested, according to the report.
An official journalist speaking by telephone from Tirana had said earlier that cadets at the academy were threatening to shoot anybody who tried to take down the bust of Hoxha.
Television also showed footage of several thousand pro-Hoxha demonstrations in Albanian towns, a reaction to the anti-Hoxha crowds that earlier in the week tore down statues of the late dictator and burned his portraits and books.
Albania's Communist president, seeking to stave off more unrest in his turbulent Balkan nation, named a new government Friday headed by a young Marxist economist.
Anti-government protests in Tirana reached a peak Wednesday, when an angry crowd destroyed a giant bronze statue of Hoxha, the Stalinist founder of Albania. On Friday, a museum of Hoxha memorabilia was closed.
The same night the statue was destroyed, President Ramiz Alia announced he was taking power directly, and that he would form a new government and presidential council.
Members of the new government were announced on television Friday night.
A journalist for the state media, who spoke from Tirana on condition of anonymity, said Alia named Fatos Nano, an economist in his late 30s from the Institute of Marxist-Leninist Studies, to be the new premier.
"He has been moving very fast in recent months up to the top," the journalist said.
Alia will remain as head of state, while Nano will be head of the new government that answers to the president.
The journalist said Nano, most recently in charge of foreign trade, was thought to be more reform-minded than the man he is replacing, Adil Carcani. A new vice premier and ministers of foreign affairs and interior were also appointed. The interior minister controls the police force.
The television news also announced the appointment of a nine-member presidential council that included Alia, Nano, writer Kici Blushi, retired parliamentary leader Haxhi Lleshi and others.
The role of the presidential council was not clear.
The journalist said the new government included no members of the opposition parties permitted by the Communists since December.
The new government is to serve until after Albania's first free elections since Communist rule began in 1946. The voting is set for March 31.
The state television showed demonstrations in support of Hoxha in the southern towns of Skrapar and Permet, the journalist reported. He quoted the television as saying that more than 700 students declared they would go on a hunger strike if Hoxha's statue in Tirana is not put back up by Monday.