Closing In On War

  • Share
  • Read Later
SARANDE, Albania: Albania edged closer to all-out civil war as government military jets bombed a southern village and armed civilians clashed with army forces. Reports say a Chinese-made MiG-15 warplane sailed over the port of Livena and dropped up to three bombs on the town, causing an unknown amount of damage. Although the government denies its forces are attacking civilians, crew members of a military jet that defected to southern Italy on Tuesday said they had been given orders to bomb civilian targets. President Sali Barisha has launched a major security operation to quell the unrest, which has seen the southern cities of Delvine, Vlora and Sarande spin out of government control. But although the crackdown has included an escalating campaign against local journalists -- the independent Koha Jone daily has had its offices partially burned and several reporter beaten -- insurgents are not backing down. They have reportedly seized three tanks and seek to capture Tirana, the nation's capital. Meanwhile, residents in the south are flocking to shops to stock up on food and supplies, and several Albanians are trying to flee the country altogether. Albania has seething since mid-January, when failed pyramid schemes left thousands destitute. Defrauded investors took to the streets to protest their suspicion that government officials at least tacitly allowed the schemes to continue and perhaps even profited from them. After protests turned violent, the government declared a state of emergency Sunday evening and enforced a strict curfew, authorizing police to shoot armed rebels who offer resistance.