Overnight explosions aimed to intimidate interior minister, police, cause panic, investigators believe

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 10, 2015 16:45

Overnight explosions aimed to intimidate interior minister, police, cause panic, investigators believe

[UPDATED] No one hurt as two overnight explosions target property of interior minister’s family and home of senior police official. Police perform controlled explosion on a third device left at a Tirana bus shelter.

TIRANA – Three expositions rocked Tirana overnight, causing property damage but no injuries.

The blasts targeted a pharmacy owned by the interior minister’s father and the home of a police official. Police performed a controlled explosion on a third device found at a Tirana bus shelter in the early hours of Tuesday.

The explosions aimed to intimidate law enforcement authorities and cause panic, investigators told the local media. No one has claimed responsibility publicly for the attacks.

Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri held a meeting with prosecutor general and the country’s intelligence chief this morning. Prosecutors from the Serious Crimes Unit have taken over the investigations and are treating all three incidents as related, local media reported.

Tahiri said later in the day that that it is not easy to see his family threatened but added he won’t be intimidated from doing his job as part of the government’s anti-crime drive.

Prime Minister Edi Rama called the explosions “an act of terror” in a statement. He tied the explosions to the government’s recent rule of law operations across the country.

“There will be no tolerance in the war on crime,” Rama said. “Saimir Tahiri is at the helm of such war and those who have ordered and executed this act of terror on his family will learn that today they have given the minister and all of us more motivation to … do this high duty in the service of the country and its people.”

The use of small explosive devices in acts of targeted violence is not rare in Albania, but this is the first time the family of a cabinet minister has been targeted and the first time such explosive devices have been left in a public place like a bus shelter.

The bus station in question is in the vicinity of the homes of the interior minister’s parents and the mother of the prime minister, but officials have not made a direct connection.

European Union and U.S. diplomats in Tirana issued statements that strongly condemned the attacks and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

“The use of violence as a means of intimidation and coercion is a cowardly act that undermines democracy and has no place in today’s Albania,” the U.S. Embassy in Tirana said in statement, adding it “is proud to continue its longstanding support for Albania’s Ministry of Interior, Police, and other security services in the fight against organized crime, narcotics trafficking, and corruption.”

This is a developing story last updated Feb. 10, 2015 at 4:45 p.m. Read more about this and other top stories of the week in our upcoming Friday print edition.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 10, 2015 16:45