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Three Dead In Tirana As Protesters Clash With Police


Supporters of the opposition Socialist Party clash with police during an anti-government rally in Tirana.

Supporters of the opposition Socialist Party clash with police during an anti-government rally in Tirana.

Albanian hospital officials say three people have been shot dead in Tirana during clashes between police and supporters of Albania's opposition Socialist Party.

Police say they fired live ammunition as a warning after using tear gas and water cannon to try to disperse protesters outside Prime Minister Sali Berisha's office.

It was not immediately clear if the shooting victims were struck by police bullets.

Earlier, demonstrators from an estimated crowd of 20,000 who gathered to call for the resignation of the government over corruption allegations had thrown sticks and stones at police near Berisha's office.

They also overturned and set fire to a police car and other vehicles.

President Bamir Topi urged rival political leaders to start an urgent dialogue to defuse tensions. Socialist leader Edi Rama, who is the mayor of Tirana, called for calm.

But Rama said Berisha also should heed the message from the mass demonstration.

The opposition has been calling for new elections since it rejected the results of the June 2009 parliamentary polls, which Berisha's Democratic Party won by a small margin.

Talks to solve the deadlock have failed.

Albania is to conduct local elections on May 8.

compiled from agency reports
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