NEWS

Unrest in southern Albania

TIRANA (AP) – Hundreds of angry Albanians were trying to reach a southern town yesterday after local ethnic Greeks waved Greek flags and shouted anti-Albanian slogans in the aftermath of Sunday’s local elections. Fearing a confrontation, police spokesman Florion Serjani said officers were trying to calm people coming from Vlore, 140 kilometers (87 miles) south of Tirana, to the town of Himare, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) further south. «A small group driving cars with Albanian flags increased slowly during the day,» he told The Associated Press. «We are calmly and peacefully trying to convince them go back home.» Himare has been a flashpoint of controversy over its ethnic-Greek community living there, and the dispute played out in Sunday’s nationwide polls. The post of Himare mayor was won by Vassilis Bollanos of the Party of Human Rights Union, representing the Greek minority, according to provisional results that have been challenged by the ruling Socialist Party’s local candidate. Private television station Top Channel showed images of scores of people holding Greek flags and protesting on Sunday evening in front of the polling station in Himare. Earlier, an unidentified assailant threw a bomb near a polling station, injuring a policeman and two civilians. An Albanian from Vlore told Top Channel yesterday people were angry over assertions that Himare was Greek soil. «We shall meet our brethren and raise the Albanian flag in the center of Himare,» he said. [Meanwhile, Athens yesterday urged Tirana to extend the ethnic-Greek minority zone to include Himare. «(Greece) insists, and has always insisted, that this region should be declared a minority zone and that a minority Greek school should be established there,» said Foreign Ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis.]