SHKODER, ALBANIA — THIS northern Albanian town appeared to be out of the ruling Communists' control yesterday after security forces shot dead three people protesting the party's election victory. In Sunday's vote, the ruling Party of Labor swept the countryside of the largely rural Balkan country, while the opposition triumphed in Tirana, Shkoder, and other cities.
Official results from Albania's first multiparty elections since Communists took power in 1944 showed that the Party of Labor won 162 of the 250 seats in parliament to 65 for the opposition Democrats. Four seats went to two other small opposition groups and the remaining 19 are to be decided in a runoff election Sunday.
Witnesses in Shkoder accused soldiers and police of opening fire with automatic rifles on high school students who gathered in the main square for a peaceful sit-down protest Tuesday in front of the Party of Labor's headquarters.
``In our opinion, the elections on Sunday were a fraud,'' said Harris Morana, who was among 59 people wounded in more than two hours of running clashes and shooting, according to Xhemal Uruci, secretary of the local chapter of the Democratic Party.
Dozens of Albanians interviewed said they could not accept continued Communist rule nor believe statements by international observers that the elections had been fair.