Albanian activist killed in pre-poll unrest

14th June 2009, Comments 0 comments

Police officers arrested the attacker who was to be charged with premeditated murder and the illegal possession of firearms.

Tirana -- An activist from Albania's ruling Democratic Party was shot dead by a political opponent on Friday, just two weeks ahead of legislative elections in this Balkan country, police said.

The shooting happened in Qerret, a village some 30 kilometres (18 miles) southwest of Tirana, after an argument over political symbols used in campaigning, police spokesman Klodian Branka said.

"Skender Balla, a supporter of the Socialist Party, opened fire towards 25-year-old Artan Zeka, who was seriously injured and died several hours later in hospital," Branka told reporters in Tirana.

Police officers arrested the attacker who was to be charged with premeditated murder and the illegal possession of firearms.

The murder was the second since the June 28 elections were called in Albania -- a predominantly Muslim nation of 3.6 million that remains one of Europe's poorest countries.

In early May, a Socialist deputy was shot dead near his house in Roskovec, 120 kilometres (70 miles) south of Tirana. Police are yet to identify the killer.

Since the fall of communism in the early 1990s, all elections in Albania have been disputed and marred by incidents.

The Balkan state, once notorious for secrecy, a gangster culture and corruption, took its first small step towards joining the European Union when it submitted its candidacy for the bloc in April.

In the current elections, some 3.1 million voters will be asked to elect 140 deputies for parliament, choosing between 4,000 candidates representing 39 parties and political coalitions.

AFP/Expatica

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