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Albania: Seven Reported Killed

Tirana, 6 March 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Hospital officials say today that seven people have been killed in shooting incidents in the southern port of Vlore, stronghold of an armed civilian anti-government uprising.

The officials, reached by phone, say another eight people had been hospitalised with gunshots wounds, and ten others treated for minor injuries during incidents yesterday. Some casualties occurred as armed civilians exchanged fire with advancing government security forces across a river east of Vlore.

Albania, which declared a state of emergency on Sunday, has deployed army soldiers backed by tanks and police into the southern region to try and restore order after recent deadly violence. Armed groups in the south have raided state arsenals and set up defence lines to meet any army attack. Some clashes were reported yesterday.

Many Albanians blame the government for not protecting them from losing money in collapsed investment schemes. President Sali Berisha today met all opposition party leaders, including the Socialists, in a bid to resolve the crisis.