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Albania: Armed Clashes In Tirana

Tirana, Sept. 14 (RFE/RL) - The murder of an opposition lawmaker sparked armed clashes between police and demonstrators in Albania yesterday. Crowds angry over the slaying of opposition leader Azem Hajdari stormed the main government building, forcing Socialist Prime Minister Fatos Nano and his ministers to flee. One protester was reported killed in a gun battle and four of Nano's guards were wounded.

Hajdari, a leading figure in the opposition Democratic Party, was gunned down Saturday night in a killing his party blamed on the Socialists.

Party chief and former President Sali Berisha called on Nano to resign by today or face what he called "catastrophic consequences."

The Interior Ministry reported "unlawful developments" related to the slaying in other towns, but gave no details.

The U.S. embassy in Tirana urged Albanians to put down their weapons and pursue legitimate democratic and legal means to deal with the situation.

Observers say the violence raises fears of a repeat of last year's nationwide riots in Albania, sparked by the collapse of get-rich-quick investment schemes in which many Albanians lost their money.