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SARANDE, Albania (CNN) -- Albanian unrest spread to the
southern town of Sarande, where rioters torched buildings and
looted shops without interference from police, the state news
agency said Sunday.
Parliament voted to declare an immediate state of emergency
throughout Albania in response to the riots rocking the
nation, the speaker of the chamber announced.
A crowd of 1,000 anti-government demonstrators sacked the Sarande police
taking weapons and releasing prisoners held in the building's
jail, witnesses said. No injuries were reported, hospital
officials said, "because their were no clashes. The police
Heavy black smoke billowed from the police building, a bank
and a library in the town Sunday morning, and gunshots
continued to ring out.
"It all started yesterday after (President Sali) Berisha said
the government was to resign," said a resident who gave his
name as Markos. "The demonstrator first stormed the police
headquarters and took weapons and started shooting in the air
... then they went on to break into shops and state banks."
Berisha announced Saturday that he had accepted the
resignation of right-wing Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi.
But he said Meksi will remain as a caretaker "until a new
prime minister is named following consultations with other
Meksi resigned after clashes between protesters and Albania's
Shik secret police left nine dead in the town of Vlora, and
unrest had swelled in the capital Tirana. But opposition
leaders said that Meksi's resignation was not enough.
(Eyewitness report from journalist Wilma Goudappel in Albania: 258 K / 20 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
"The people want (Berisha's party) to resign from all power,"
said Democratic Alliance party leader Neritan Ceka. "It is
responsible for the chaos in Albania."
Chaos and unrest have been the rule in Albania since the
collapse of dubious "get-rich-quick" pyramid schemes in
January left thousands in the already-impoverished country
broke and destitute.
Berisha blames Albania's troubles on left-wing instigators
and denies claims that his government profited from the
failed investment schemes.
Both opposition leaders in Tirana and those leading the
protests in southern Albania said they are still demanding
Berisha's resignation and the establishment of a "technical
government" consisting of "neutral" intellectuals and
non-politicians until national elections can be held.
The protesters in Vlora issued an ultimatum to Berisha on
Sunday, calling on him not to stand for
re-election Monday and to dissolve parliament.
Protest organizers of local opposition parties said if
Berisha did not respond by Sunday evening, Vlora residents
and supporters in the region would move on Tirana, 150 km (90
miles) to the north.
Reporters in Vlora Sunday morning said there was still no
sign of any police or security presence in the town. Groups
of armed people were patrolling the town and firing shots
into the air but there had been no further rioting
Berisha's villa in Vlora was among the buildings sacked by
the protesters, however. Witnesses said looters carried away
doors and windows, and uprooted flowers from the villa's
A speaker at a daily rally in the town said that protesters
were holding secret police agents hostage, and called the
president "a terrorist."
Rioters in the coastal town of Himara and the town of Fier
also reportedly burned police buildings overnight.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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