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News 29 May 17

Albania Probes Mystery Illnesses Among Opposition Supporters

Opposition leaders are demanding to know why, after attending a campaign rally on Saturday in Tirana, some 140 people complained of skin damage and breathing problems.

Fatjona Mejdini
Opposition rally on Saturday evening when the incident occurred. Photo: Lulzim Basha's Facebook page

Albanian police said on Monday they are working with the prosecutors to find out what happened at an opposition Democratic Party rally on Saturday in Tirana, after which about 140 people complained of suffering mysterious ailments.

Problems included red, swollen eyes, skin irritations, vomiting and difficulties with breathing.

On Sunday, dozens of them sought treatment at the city's Mother Teresa University hospital. The party leader, Lulzim Basha, the main speaker at the rally, also sought help on Sunday.

Police told BIRN on Monday there was no explanation as yet for the situation while the General Prosecutor's office said they were still investigating.

Basha on Sunday said that, fortunately, the symptoms were only temporary, but urged the authorities to shed light on the incident and disclose any possible perpetrators.

"They need to bring these assailants to justice, whoever they are. If this doesn't happen, it is further proof of the total collapse of the state," he said.

The Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the police, is currently being run by a "technical minister", Dritan Demiraj, an appointee from the opposition.

The former leader of the Democrats, Sali Berisha, on Sunday published pictures of some of the people suffering from severe skin irritations after attending the opposition rally.

On Sunday afternoon, President Bujar Nishani also reacted, calling on the authorities to shed light on possible culprits without delay.

The Prime Minister, Edi Rama, asked the authorities on Sunday to investigate the incidents, while expressing best wishes for the health of those suffering from symptoms.

Political parties in Albania are in the midst of a campaign for general elections due on June 25.

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