Foreign Ministry: Athens Awaiting Clarifications from Albania over Greek National’s Death

Konstantinos Katsifas. Source: Facebook.

ATHENS – Greek authorities are in contact with those in Albania and expect the incident that led to the death of a Greek national to be fully clarified, a foreign ministry press release said on Sunday.

“Greek authorities have from the first closely followed the development of the incident in the village Bularat, Albania where a Greek national allegedly opened fire with a Kalashnikov rifle against an Albanian police vehicle attempting to arrest him.

A little while ago we were officially informed that in an exchange of fire with Albanian police forces, Konstantinos Katsifas fell dead,” the ministry said.

Expressing deep sorrow and condolences to the family, the ministry said it was “unacceptable that the operation reached the point where human life was lost.”

“We expect from Albanian authorities the full clarification of the conditions under which the Greek citizen in question lost his life and will immediately take the appropriate action,” it concluded.

AP reported that:

Police in Albania fatally shot a man in a gunbattle with officers Sunday during an annual event to celebrate Greece’s entry in World War II against Italy, prompting a strong reaction from Athens.

Konstantinos Kacifa (Katsifas), a 35-year-old dual Albanian-Greek citizen, first started shooting in the air in the village of Bularat, 255 kilometers (160 miles) south of the capital, Tirana, police said in a statement. Then the man fired at approaching police cars before running away.

Kacifa hid on a nearby mountain and continued to fire at officers, authorities said. Police said he died in the exchange of fire.

Kacifa was born in Bularat but had most recently been living in Athens. Police and prosecutors were investigating a motive for the man’s actions.

Greece’s Foreign Ministry reacted to his death by saying “it is unacceptable that the operation resulted in the loss of a human life.”…

Albania’s Foreign Ministry expressed its regrets “for the unjustifiable politicization of the event in the neighboring country.”

Its statement added that Albanian police had clarified in detail that this was a “totally isolated event” and “a flagrant case” of aggression against Albanian police. It also said that it assured “our neighbors that Albania is a safe and calm country for all its citizens, including those of Greek nationality.”

Relations between Greece and post-communist Albania remain uneasy. An Ionian Sea agreement, the ethnic Greek minority in Albania and Albanian immigrants in Greece remain contentious issues, sparking tensions in bilateral ties time and again.

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By LLAZAR SEMINI , Associated Press

Demetris Nellas contributed to this report from Athens.