Man killed in shootout with police in Albania

Police in Albania fatally shot a man in a gunbattle with officers Sunday during an annual event to celebrate Greece's entry in World War II against Italy, prompting a strong reaction from Athens.

Konstantinos Kacifa, a 35-year-old dual Albanian-Greek citizen, first started shooting in the air in the village of Bularat, 255 kilometers (160 miles) south of the capital, Tirana, police said in a statement. Then the man fired at approaching police cars before running away.

Kacifa hid on a nearby mountain and continued to fire at officers, authorities said. Police said he died in the exchange of fire.

Kacifa was born in Bularat but had most recently been living in Athens. Police and prosecutors were investigating a motive for the man's actions.

Greece's Foreign Ministry reacted to his death by saying "it is unacceptable that the operation resulted in the loss of a human life."

"We await from Albanian authorities the complete clarification of the conditions under which the aforementioned Greek citizen lost his life and will immediately make the necessary moves," a statement said.

Members of Greece's extreme right political party Golden Dawn protested after Kacifa's death outside the Albanian Embassy, closing a major road in Athens. Albanian media reported that Kacifa was a member too.

Albania's Foreign Ministry expressed its regrets "for the unjustifiable politicization of the event in the neighboring country."

Its statement added that Albanian police had clarified in detail that this was a "totally isolated event" and "a flagrant case" of aggression against Albanian police. It also said that it assured "our neighbors that Albania is a safe and calm country for all its citizens, including those of Greek nationality."

Relations between Greece and post-communist Albania remain uneasy. An Ionian Sea agreement, the ethnic Greek minority in Albania and Albanian immigrants in Greece remain contentious issues, sparking tensions in bilateral ties time and again.


Demetris Nellas contributed to this report from Athens.


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