Albanian authorities have urged respect for a ban on public gatherings amid the coronavirus crisis, ahead of a planned protest over the fatal police shooting of a man during curfew hours.
The appeal came after violent demonstrations in central Tirana, where hundreds of people clashed with police and tried to enter government buildings. Authorities said 16 police and two demonstrators were injured.
The protests came in response to the shooting, early on Tuesday, of 25-year-old Klodian Rasha. Police said he ignored officers’ calls to stop and ran away. One policeman has been detained over the incident, pending an investigation.
The protests were largely organised over social media.
Police called on protesters to respect pandemic restrictions, including the ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, mandatory use of masks, social distancing and the overnight curfew.
“Gatherings and rallies are a breach” of the coronavirus rules, a police statement said. It added that authorities would not allow new protests, saying that “organisers and participants would confront the power of law”.
On Wednesday hundreds of Albanians defied pandemic rules to hold the protest. Many threw stones and flares at police while trying to force their way into the Interior Ministry, and the main government building that includes the office of Prime Minister Edi Rama.
They also damaged the New Year decorations at the main Skanderbeg Square.
Police fired tear gas to disperse them.
A police statement said three alleged organisers of the illegal protest have been arrested, and another four people were freed after being charged.