A local leader of the opposition Democratic Party and two other people were shot and killed Tuesday during an anti-Communist demonstration in a northern Albanian town, opposition officials said.
Thirty others were reported injured in the violence in Shkodra, which occurred two days after Albania's first free elections in more than 60 years. In those elections, the Democrats won all the major cities but the ruling Communists dominated overall based on support in the countryside.In the capital of Tirana, riot police with plastic shields, helmets and batons tried unsuccessfully to persuade a crowd outside Democratic Party headquarters to disperse. By afternoon, the crowd had not left, and police remained on the scene.
Arben Broci, the local opposition leader, was shot in the back Tuesday morning while trying to disperse a protest outside Communist Party headquarters in Shkodra, said Genc Pollo, the Democratic Party spokesman.
Pollo said Broci apparently was shot by somebody inside the building, which was reported on fire.
Robert Koli, first secretary of the Communist Party in Tirana, confirmed two people were killed in the northern city of 78,000, which voted solidly Democratic on Sunday. The city is the fifth-most populous in this Maryland-size nation wedged between Greece and Yugoslavia.
Democratic Party representatives in Shkodra who spoke to a journalist in Tirana said Broci and two others were shot and killed. It was not clear whether the other two were opposition officials or participants in the demonstration.
Ben Ruka of the opposition's semi-weekly newspaper quoted the Democratic Party officials in Shkodra as saying a 14-year-old boy was seriously wounded, and that a local deputy said 29 other people were also injured.
Ruka quoted the sources as saying tanks had moved into the city's streets after the unrest and that the Communist Party headquarters was on fire.
It was the first report of violence linked to Sunday's elections in this small Balkan country, Europe's last remaining stronghold of Stalinist rule.
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.
Leaders of the Democratic Party, which claimed to have won about 72 seats in the 250-seat parliament, convened an emergency meeting in Tirana on Tuesday to discuss the Shkodra incident and demanded a police investigation.
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.