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Albanian Opposition Leader Assaulted by Men in Uniform

February 10, 1997|From Associated Press

TIRANA, Albania — Uniformed men on Sunday beat an opposition leader who has criticized the government's handling of failed investment schemes, and they threatened others who were also at a cafe frequented by politicians and journalists.

The attack here in the capital on Neritan Ceka, leader of the Democratic Alliance Party, came a day after President Sali Berisha denounced violence stemming from the collapse of several get-rich-quick operations, believed to be pyramid schemes that use money from new investors to pay "profits" to earlier investors.

Hundreds of thousands of Albanians who invested their savings in the schemes have launched angry protests in recent weeks and demanded that the government take action to recover their money.

Also Sunday, in the southern port city of Vlore, police fired shots into the air to disperse several thousand protesters. The crowd set a police van on fire and threw stones at the officers.

State TV reported that 22 people were hurt, six of them seriously. Doctors at the Vlore hospital reportedly said they had treated about 40 people and that one man in the crowd had died--apparently of a heart attack.

At the West Bar in central Tirana, eight men in green uniforms similar to those worn by riot police attacked Ceka, striking him several times with a truncheon.

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