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Albania police starts house to house search in Lazarat

17 June 2014
Police file photo showing a cannabis growing field in Lazarat, 16 June 2014

Police file photo showing a cannabis growing field in Lazarat, 16 June 2014

Albania police forces reached the outskirts of Lazarat Village on the second day of their all out offensive against marijuana fields, while four people, including one police officer were injured in the fight. Advancing slowly from south, dozens of full gear police officers reached the first neighborhood of the notorious village and started a house to house search.

Reporters from the scene said that police collected cannabis plants from fields nearby and burned them on the spot while gunshots were heard from the mountain above. It is also reported that some villagers are burning their stock of cannabis in order to get clean before a possible police assault.

Police said they will continue to search through the entire village till the last plant is cleared.

Lazarati, a small village of about 3000 inhabitants, is reputed to produce hundreds of tons of cannabis per year. It is also considered the richest municipality in the country.

Albania government lost control of this village in 1997. Over the years it was transformed in a lawless pocked famous for marijuana fields.

More than 500 police officers exchanged fire with drug traffickers on Monday as they launched a crackdown on the outlaw marijuana-growing village of Lazarat in southern Albania. Police forces increased to 800 on Tuesday.

The crew of four, a reporter, a cameraman and two technicians, were held hostage for 15 minutes by masked armed man before being released. One of the technicians was slightly injured by broken glass when the assailants shot at the car with AK-47s on Monday.

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović today condemned an attack on journalists reporting on a police raid in Gjirokastra’s Lazarat village in southern Albania yesterday.

“Violence against journalists is unacceptable, safety is a basic pre-condition for their work,” Mijatović said.

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