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Clashes break out in Albania over police shooting of 25-year-old man

Prime Minister Edi Rama apologised to the man’s parents.

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Protesters gather during clashes with Albanian police in Tirana (Hektor Pustina/AP)

Protesters gather during clashes with Albanian police in Tirana (Hektor Pustina/AP)

Protesters gather during clashes with Albanian police in Tirana (Hektor Pustina/AP)

Demonstrators have clashed with police for a second day in the Albanian capital during a protest over this week’s fatal police shooting of a man during curfew hours.

In a televised address broadcast just as the protest in Tirana started, Prime Minister Edi Rama apologised to the 25-year-old’s parents, and the country’s interior minister resigned over the shooting.

Nevertheless, several hundred people went ahead with the protest — ignoring an appeal by authorities to respect a pandemic-linked ban on public gatherings of more than 10 people.

They marched to the interior ministry, and some threw stones and other projectiles at police, who responded with tear gas and water cannons. Some protesters were seen being detained.

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Albanian police use a water cannon against protesters (Hektor Pustina/AP)

Albanian police use a water cannon against protesters (Hektor Pustina/AP)

AP/PA Images

Albanian police use a water cannon against protesters (Hektor Pustina/AP)

In the south-eastern city of Korca, protesters also attacked police and the city hall on Thursday.

Klodian Rasha was shot dead early on Tuesday. Police said he ignored officers’ calls to stop and ran away. One policeman has been detained over the incident, pending an investigation.

Interior minister Sander Lleshaj said he decided to step down “as a human being and as a parent who modestly shares the pain with … Klodian Rasha’s family”.

The country’s main opposition party blamed Mr Rama directly for the death and demanded his own resignation. The country is due to hold parliamentary elections in April 2021.

Mr Rama, who returned from a trip to the US on Thursday, visited Mr Rasha’s family. He said they told him that they wanted “justice, not political noise”.

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A policeman tries to extinguish a Christmas tree on fire outside the Prime Minister’s office (Hektor Pustina/AP)

A policeman tries to extinguish a Christmas tree on fire outside the Prime Minister’s office (Hektor Pustina/AP)

AP/PA Images

A policeman tries to extinguish a Christmas tree on fire outside the Prime Minister’s office (Hektor Pustina/AP)

The prime minister said he considered the shooting “inexplicable and completely unreasonable” but added that it is up to Albania’s judiciary “to state if the (policeman) is guilty before the law”.

On Wednesday hundreds of Albanians in Tirana also defied pandemic rules to protest against Mr Rasha’s death. Many threw stones and flares at police while trying to force their way into the Interior Ministry, and the main government building that includes Mr Rama’s office.

They also damaged the New Year decorations at the main Skanderbeg Square.

A police statement said three alleged organisers of Wednesday’s protest have been arrested, and another four people were freed after being charged.

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