From: Exit News
4 Killed in Conflict over Use of Public Beach Areas in Albania

Four people were killed and two were wounded in an armed conflict between two groups on Sunday in Shkoder.

Xhovani Gocaj (25), Edmond Gocaj (38), Myzerim Zeneli (20), and Kujtim Ferracaku (59) were killed shortly after midnight, while Hasan Ferracaku (54) and Elmilind Dyli (17) were wounded.

The Gocajs and Ferracakus own two adjacent hotels in the north-western Adriatic seaside of Albania. The conflict arose following disagreements over the limits of beach areas they had rented from the government, according to Shkoder’s police chief Niko Brahimaj.

It comes amidst government attempts to attract more tourists following a blow the tourism sector received last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Albania is now virtually Covid-19-free, and open for anyone to visit. 

The government leases beach areas to hotels and other businesses along the seaside. Their profits from beach umbrellas and chairs lent to tourists are an important part of their overall income during the summer season.

Mayor of Shkoder Voltana Ademi accused the Ministry of Tourism of failing to rent out beach spaces on time, as well as the police for failing to address the conflict when it appeared several days earlier and before it became deadly.

Opposition leader Lulzim Basha blamed Prime Minister Edi Rama and the police for the armed conflict, and accused them both of ties to criminal gangs.

In response, Rama promised to speed up a reform within the police before the end of summer.