March 14, 1997 |
The upheaval sweeping Albania finally engulfed this capital Thursday. Gunfire erupted, looters ransacked arms depots and food warehouses, police vanished and U.S. military helicopters swooped in to rescue Americans. Dozens of people were killed or wounded nationwide as violence, which began as a revolt against President Sali Berisha and the losses many Albanians suffered from fraudulent pyramid schemes, crumbled into nationwide mayhem.
March 13, 1997 |
President Sali Berisha and his political opposition agreed Wednesday on a new, coalition government, while Washington ordered the evacuation of most of its diplomatic community amid growing panic over unrest sweeping this small Balkan country. Looters raided military ammunition depots in Tirana for the first time as a frenzied effort to seize guns spread.
March 12, 1997 |
The women on Osman Haxhiu Street hide in their apartments to avoid the hoodlums with guns who reign over this rebel stronghold. They step out in the morning only to look for food and are forced to dip into precious reserves of flour and canned peas. "Criminals are now in control of the weapons," sighed retired seamstress Flora Kampjeli, whose windows have been shot out and who is desperate to send her son to Italy.
March 11, 1997 |
Revolt spread throughout most of southern Albania on Monday, but rebel leaders from one key city agreed after talks with Italian diplomats to lay down their arms. Representatives from the port city of Vlore said they wanted swift implementation of a peace deal between President Sali Berisha and his political opponents. The declaration by eight representatives of the Vlore rebel committee was signed on an Italian warship at a meeting with Italy's ambassador to Albania, Paolo Foresti.
March 10, 1997 |
With the most prosperous region of his country in the hands of well-armed insurgents, Albanian President Sali Berisha agreed Sunday to form a new "government of national reconciliation" and hold fresh elections. Berisha's concession was greeted here in the heart of the rebellious south with a deafening unloading of celebratory machine-gun fire and grenade explosions. But the rebels said they will not end their mutiny until Berisha is out of office.
March 9, 1997 |
Rebels angrily wave assault rifles and badger occupants of cars that navigate helter-skelter through the main boulevard of this southern city, past barricades of broken concrete and metal bars. Few women dare venture outside. Gunfire and explosions cut the air and reverberate over the Adriatic Sea.
March 8, 1997 |
While rebelling southerners reinforced their combat positions, President Sali Berisha on Friday rejected international pressure and his opponents' demands for new elections. In talks with European envoys, Berisha also refused to bring his rivals, the Socialists, into a governing coalition. He said he has done all he is willing to do--temporarily suspend military offensives against the militants.
March 7, 1997 |
In an effort to pacify armed rebellion in the south, the Albanian government agreed Thursday to halt military operations there for 48 hours. In exchange, opposition politicians called on the insurgents to lay down their weapons and accept amnesty.
March 6, 1997 |
President Sali Berisha, parts of his country in open revolt, deepened his own diplomatic isolation Wednesday by refusing the helping hand of Western mediators. Foreign Minister Tritan Shehu said the "timing" was wrong for an international peace mission, even as a military assault appeared imminent against Albanians in revolt in three southern cities.
March 5, 1997 |
Tanks and troops streamed into southern Albania on Tuesday and took positions near the rebellious city of Vlore, where armed anti-government forces defied emergency rule and roamed streets they claimed as their own.