Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

An Albanian Town Awash in Guns and Warlords the Government Long Ago Gave Up Trying to Tame Bajram Curri, Where

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

An Albanian Town Awash in Guns and Warlords the Government Long Ago Gave Up Trying to Tame Bajram Curri, Where

Article excerpt

The convoy was 15 miles short of town when the Kalashnikov- brandishing bandits struck, lured by the four expensive trucks and their cargoes of food and soap for 2,400 Kosovar Albanian refugees.

Policemen guarding the trucks hauling the aid for Concern Worldwide, a private Irish group, fired back. The bloodless hour-long clash April 27 ended with the arrival of more cops and Albanian troops. Outgunned, the gang fled.

Nowhere else in Albania has there been such an attack on a convoy bearing relief for some of the 395,600 ethnic Albanians purged from Kosovo. But this is no ordinary place. This is Bajram Curri. Located in the Northern Albanian Alps, the poorest region of Europe's poorest state, Bajram Curri has returned to its centuries- old past of brigandage and warlordism, awash in so many guns that few people venture out after dark. The government long ago gave up trying to tame this town, where five of the 5,000 people have been murdered this year, residents say. The insecurity is heightened by a huge Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) presence. With the apparent consent of Tirana, the Albanian capital, the rebels use Bajram Curri as a transit point for camps on the border with Kosovo, which runs about eight miles to the north. Camouflage-clad rebels are everywhere, seated outside the Club Kosova restaurant, sauntering in the streets, and recovering from wounds in the hospital. United Nations aid agencies pulled out of Bajram Curri in October. In the past few weeks, bandits have heisted four four-wheel drive vehicles and hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment from at least eight news organizations. Even a key KLA operative who came to Bajram Curri to "make it safe for journalists" had his Jeep stolen by armed thugs in the town center less than three hours after arriving. He got it back only because of his friendship with the chief warlord. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.