Italian troops arrive on historic Albanian mission
Force aims to secure aid, help restore order
April 11, 1997
Web posted at: 11:40 a.m. EDT (1540 GMT)
In this story:
DURRAS, Albania (CNN) -- The first 20 Italian troops on an
aid and order mission to Albania arrived in this port city
west of Tirana on Friday and were immediately ambushed by a
small army of journalists.
The advance party was to prepare a route for a 6,000-strong
multinational force created to restore normalcy in the
unsettled nation, wracked by weeks of near anarchy and armed
The multinational force arriving next week will secure three
areas for aid deliveries to the impoverished population:
| Durras, about 20 miles west of Tirana, the capital
The port of Vlora, 50 miles southwest of Tirana
Outnumbering the soldiers by nearly two to one, reporters and
cameramen quickly descended on the troops for interviews as
the advance party stepped onto the dock from the Italian
transport ship Pantelleria.
The vessel left the southeastern Italian port of Brindisi on
Thursday night, escorted by the minesweeper Rimini.
The soldiers, clad in combat fatigues, chatted warmly for
about an hour with the pack of nearly 40 journalists and
camera crews, most of them from Italy.
Standing on the sun-drenched pier in front of the brilliant
turquoise Adriatic, they also handed pieces of candy to local
The arrival of the first soldiers in the first Italian-led
multinational security force is big news in Italy. But only
a handful of Albanians, who have been waiting for more than
a month for international assistance, were on hand to
witness the Italians' arrival in Durras.
More Albanian papers back on streets
In a further sign the country was returning to normal, two
Albanian daily newspapers have resumed publication.
Two independent titles in Tirana put out their first editions
in a month on Friday, raising to four the number of dailies
that have returned this week after parliament relaxed
restrictions on local media.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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