Albanian opposition leader attacked during anti-government protest

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By Euronews  with AP
Albanian opposition leader Sali Berisha was punched in the face by a male bystander during a protest in Tirana on Tuesday.
Albanian opposition leader Sali Berisha was punched in the face by a male bystander during a protest in Tirana on Tuesday.   -   Copyright  AP Photo

Albania's former president and prime minister was attacked on Tuesday during a protest held near a summit of European Union leaders and their Western Balkans counterparts in the Albanian capital.

Sali Berisha, a 78-year-old who now leads the centre-right Democratic Party, was leading hundreds of protesters towards the summit when a man came out of the crowd and punched him in the face.

The attacker was immediately subdued by bodyguards. Witnesses saw Berisha with a bloodied face.

Police said in a statement that the 31-year old suspect, who is now in custody, had suffered from “psychiatric irregularities”, and previously faced charges for acts of violence and drug trafficking.

The opposition was protesting the alleged corruption of Prime Minister Edi Rama, which they also blame for the country’s cost-of-living crisis and the exodus of young Albanians leaving for a better life in Western European countries.

EU and Western Balkan leaders met in Tirana for talks aimed at strengthening their partnership as Russia’s war in Ukraine threatens to reshape the geopolitical balance in the region.

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