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Albania: Thousands Attend Protestor's Funeral

Vlore, Albania; 11 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - An estimated 30,000 mourners marched through the Albanian port city of Vlore today to mark the funeral of a protester who was killed yesterday in a clash with riot police.

Thirty-three-year-old Artur Rustemi was shot dead while another demonstrator died of a heart attack. The protesters chanted: "The police killed him" as they filled behind the open casket.

Also today, offices of the ruling Democratic Party were set on fire, casting a cloud of smoke over the crowd which carried Rustemi's open coffin through the streets.

In all, about 80 people were injured yesterday when thousands of angry residents rampaged against police, beating officers and burning their uniforms, guns and shields.

It was the worst rioting in a month of unrest sparked by the collapse of high-risk investment schemes into which thousands of Albanian families sank their savings. Many Albanians believe that President Sali Berisha's ruling Democratic Party either directly benefited from the ventures or should have acted sooner to control them.