10-Day Civil War
- 1 March 1997, found Vlora with no state authority left standing. The news of the massacre of SHIK officers had shaken the government. Rebels took control of the Pashaliman base, the state symbol of resistance. Albanian government declared a state of emergency and more troops surrounded Vlora and Tepelena. In return, rebels set up cannons at the entrance of the city and pointed them North.
- 2 March 1997, Alexander Meksi's government resiged, after failing to resolve the crisis. The event was celebrated by thousands shooting Kalashnikovs in the South of the country. Meanwhile, parliament appointed Albania's Surgeon General, head of Gazidede Union, to restore order. Immediately, Gazidede ordered closure of schools throughout the country indefinitely and also imposed restrictions on the press and on consumer goods supplies to the population.
- 3 March 1997, DP re-elected Sali Berisha President of the Republic of Albania with votes of DP members of parliament alone. Massive riots erupted in the South and center, the main centers of rebellion. Saranda also fell into the hands of rebels, with fighters based out of Vlora arriving by boat, burned every government building including the city library. They also broke into the local detention facility and retrieved over 400 guns. The gunmen burn the Vocational Training Centre in Vlora, which cost 7 million USD. SHIK try to isolate the rebellion in Vlora, Saranda and Delvina in order not to spread to the rest of the country.
- On 4 March, the Public Salvation Committee of Vlore known simply as the Committee of Salvation is formed in the South. This committee begins to act as a parallel structure, performing de facto a coup. On the same day in the South snipers are placed on every building and every street puts up barricades to prevent entry of SHIK, the only enemy insurgents. The Mifolit Bridge is blocked and undermined. This bridge will become a symbol of rebellion by becoming the bridge that separates Albania. While the students end their hunger strike. In Saranda the navy attacked and abducted thousands of weapons. Gangs patrol the sea with the Navy ships. Saranda posted stating that autonomy in this area live 20,000 Greeks. In the Sixneck, outside Saranda city, an agent of SHIK was burnt alive, and one taken hostage. Two others escaped. 50 soldiers join the rebels. Two Air Force pilots deserted and flew to Italy. They claimed they were ordered to hit the civilian population. Bands come on stage before. Gazidede's plan fails to isolate the insurgency in Vlora, as it spreads across the south of the country. In Delvina after fierce fighting, the rebels prevail forcing the army to withdraw. In Saranda the rebels put roadblocks on the road.
- Theories begin to spread over the North-South division of the country. Protesters in the South begin to degenerate into invective against Berisha, with no lack of women also known as shamizezat. They also use massively three fingers, a symbol of Serb chauvinism. On 6 March, Sali Berisha holds a meeting with representatives of political parties and sign a statement condemning the blasts of warehouses and calls for surrender of weapons. 6 hours later, officially the SP and DAP leaders deny any responsibility and obligation to the statement that they had considered "political success." Rebels in Saranda Gjirokastra leave to take.
- On 7–8 March, the rebels came from Saranda, in collaboration with local army forces enter Gjirokastra. Special forces are taken hostage. On top of revolt in Gjirokastra are PAD members, Arben Imami (ironically to be later appointed by Berisha as Minister on Defense on 2009) and Ridvan Pëshkëpia. With the fall of Gjirokastra in the hands of rebels, all south of the country is out of control. Weapons continue to spread in the country. The international Rinas Airport was attacked by villagers from the surrounding areas, and the Agricultural University of Tirana was looted.
- 9 March a Government of National Reconciliation Union was set up, headed by Bashkim Fino, the mayor of Gjirokastra. This government was formed as a result of political will of the majority and opposition. The new government calls on former army member to contribute for restoring peace and order. President goes on television in a statement to the nation where he calls for "reconciliation, faith, unity and calmness."
- Unopposed on the battlefield southern rebels launched a wave of extraordinary destruction. In Gramsh rebels attacked the police station, in Fier they take control of the streets. Berat fells into the hands of gangs and becomes one of the main centers of rebellion after Vlora. Polican, Këlcyra and Skrapari also fell. In Kuçovë rebels took control of 19 combat aircraft type "MiG". Vlora Rescue Committee welcomes the agreement of 9 March. While the rebellion spreads to the north, ending the Civil War and paving the way for anarchy and the rule of armed gangs, particularly in the south of Albania.
- Prominent crime figures have already escaped from prisons and organize gangs effectively taking control of many areas. Gangs make money through storming banks, taking hostages and kidnapping of businesses. The chaos is total and the whole country (with the exception of the capital Tirana) is completely paralyzed.
Read more about this topic: 1997 In Albania
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