Funeral rally turns fury on Berisha

Permet - Albanian rebels who seized the southern town of Permet began to bury their dead in a funeral that swelled into a protest rally, with crowds demanding President Sali Berisha's resignation. About 3,000 people shouting "Down with Berisha, down with the murderer" marched to the cemetery, where youths fired in the air with Kalashnikov rifles before a school teacher and a young father were buried.

The crowd paused to shout anti-government slogans in front of the prefecture hall, where a pool of blood lay on the floor. Locals said this was where the 24-year-old father of a young child was shot. The rebels took control of Permet on Sunday and vowed not to surrender their weapons until Mr Berisha resigned. Five people were killed and six injured in the fighting, hours before Mr Berisha struck a deal with opposition parties to hold early elections.

The parents of Eduart Theodori, head of Mr Berisha's Democratic Party in Permet, were killed by soldiers. Their coffins stood inside his house, where 15 women sat weeping. "When we saw things flaring up I asked my father and mother to take my two children to a nearby village," Mr Theodori said.

"When they passed by a police station the soldiers opened fire. They shot at people like they were sheep. We had given the soldiers an ultimatum to leave and as they left they sprayed bullets everywhere."

Lefteri Kiriako, a doctor at Permet hospital, said all the injured had been wounded by bullets and one was in critical condition.

A witness, Hecuran Bejollari, said: "A group of soldiers left yesterday and as they were leaving they started shooting at people in the main square. There were many dead and injured. People took guns from the police station and two barracks and we shot back."

Speakers in the main square urged the town's 12,000 people to remain calm and not fire their guns aimlessly in the air.

"We will try to find a way to calm people. A rebel council that has been elected will distribute food, gas and other necessities," said the mayor, Spartak Kondi. "We will return our weapons when Berisha resigns." Most public buildings in the town had been sprayed with bullets and the police station was burning. The town's two army barracks had been looted but it was unclear how many weapons were taken.

The rebels have turned down Mr Berisha's offer of amnesty if they give back thousands of weapons, including tanks and heavy artillery , seized from state arsenals.

Journalists driving from the rebel-held town of Gjirokaster found no roadblocks on the way to Permet on the main highway south-east from rebel- held Tepelene. The rebels said they also controlled about nearby 36 villages.

Rebel leaders, including many former army officers, were in contact with each other in the main towns of Gjirokaster, Vlora, Sarande and Delvine to discuss Mr Berisha's deal with the opposition. They said they would also discuss it with opposition leaders in Tirana.

Mr Berisha, accused of standing by when pyramid investment schemes collapsed in January, wiping out the savings of thousands, agreed with all parties to hold elections by June.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most