Police fired tear gas shells in Tirana on Saturday and protesters pelted stones at the headquarters of Albania’s opposition Democratic Party, deepening a power struggle between party rivals.
At least one police officer and one demonstrator were injured and dozens of protesters were arrested, police said. The protests were dispersed later in the afternoon.
The protesters were supporters of former president and prime minister Sali Berisha, who was kicked out of the party last year after Washington banned him from entering the United States over alleged corruption.
Berisha, who denies wrongdoing, has since filed a leadership challenge against party leader Lulzim Basha. Last month, Berisha convened a party assembly and declared himself the leader.
During Saturday’s unrest, Berisha supporters used hammers to open newly installed metal security doors in offices and threw down stairs to reach the second floor.
Police said in a statement that “a group of lawmakers within the Democratic Party requested police help after they were forced to intervene because lives were in danger.”
Local media said people inside the building had sought to keep protesters out by spraying fire extinguishers before police arrived.
“The fighting will continue because we consider the party building our home, and we will free our house,” Berisha said, after police used paper spray against him and his supporters to prevent them from entering the building again. Speaking later.
The EU office in Tirana called for calm and restraint: “There should be no place for violence in politics,” it said.
Yuri Kim, the US ambassador to Albania, said Washington was deeply concerned about recent tensions over the Democratic Party.
“Those who incite violence or undermine the rule of law will be held accountable,” Kim said in a tweet.