Crowds flock to funeral of ethnic Greek man slain in Albania

Katsifas was carried in an open casket draped with Greek flags as some mourners chanted “Konstantinos, you are alive and leading us!” (AFP)
Updated 09 November 2018
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Crowds flock to funeral of ethnic Greek man slain in Albania

  • The size of the ethnic Greek minority in Albania is believed to be around 25,000, in an overall population of 2.8 million
  • The neighbors have a number of other long-running disputes, including a disagreement over their maritime border, which is believed to straddle lucrative energy resources

BULARAT, Albania: Hundreds attended a funeral in southern Albania on Thursday for an ethnic Greek man who was killed by police there last month, inflaming tensions between Athens and Tirana.
Konstantinos Katsifas, who had dual Greek and Albanian citizenship, was killed during a shootout with police in the town of Bularat on October 28.
Albanian authorities described the 35-year-old as a Greek “extremist” who had fired a Kalashnikov into the air in the center of the village, nearby where a ceremony was being held to commemorate Greek soldiers who fought in World War II.
A 30-minute shootout ensued after police tried to apprehend him.
Athens said the loss of life was “unacceptable” and requested a full investigation, while some Greek nationalist groups have protested against the killing, firebombing an Albanian tourism office in Athens.
On Thursday hundreds of mourners carrying white-and-blue Greek flags flocked by bus and car, some traveling from Greece, to Bularat.
Katsifas was carried in an open casket draped with Greek flags as some mourners chanted “Konstantinos, you are alive and leading us!”
A police source told AFP that 10 Greek nationalists were arrested at the border and banned from entering Albania to attend the funeral.
The treatment of Albania’s ethnic Greeks has long strained bilateral relations.
The size of the ethnic Greek minority in Albania is disputed, though a 2011 census put it at 25,000, in an overall population of 2.8 million. They are concentrated in the south.
Some 600,000 Albanians have also emigrated to Greece since the fall of communism almost 30 years ago.
The neighbors have a number of other long-running disputes, including a disagreement over their maritime border, which is believed to straddle lucrative energy resources.
In an illustration of their complex relations, the countries have yet to officially lift the state of war declared in 1940, though both sides have indicated an intention to do so.


Bangladesh arrests Islamist extremist over deadly cafe attack

Updated 4 min 5 sec ago
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Bangladesh arrests Islamist extremist over deadly cafe attack

  • Mufti Mahmud Khan, a spokesman for the elite Rapid Action Battalion, says the suspect supplied money and weapons for a local banned Islamist militant group
  • The arrested is one of the key “decision-makers” in the homegrown militia blamed for the attack

DHAKA: Bangladesh has arrested a suspected Islamist extremist who supplied weapons and explosives for a 2016 siege that killed 22 hostages, a top police official said Sunday.
Eighteen foreigners were among those shot and hacked to death in the 10-hour standoff at the Holey Artisan Bakery, an upmarket cafe in Dhaka, before military commandos stormed the building and freed some two dozen other people.
Mamunur Rashid was a key “decision-maker” in Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a banned homegrown Islamist militant outfit blamed for the attack.
The 30-year-old was arrested while traveling on a bus outside the capital Dhaka, said Mufti Mahmud Khan, a spokesman for the elite Rapid Action Battalion.
Rashid “supplied money, arms, ammunition and explosives for the attack,” Khan told reporters.
“He hid in a neighboring country and tried to reorganize the group. They were also planning to rescue their accomplices from custody.”
A former computer operator and Islamic seminary student, Rashid also provided logistical support to Islamists involved in several deadly attacks on religious minorities in the country’s north, Khan said.
A court in Dhaka last month put eight militants on trial over the cafe attack.
Khan said Rashid was one of the two men charged in absentia, while the other six were already in custody.
The Holey Artisan Bakery siege fueled fears over violent Islamist groups in the Muslim-majority nation of 165 million people.
The government also launched a nationwide crackdown against extremists immediately after the attack, killing nearly 100 alleged extremists in gunfights including several top JMB leaders.
The attack marked a violent escalation from a spate of high-profile murders in the country since 2013, with extremists targeting Bangladeshi atheist writers, rights activists, gays, foreigners and religious minorities.
Bangladesh last week banned the release of a film based on the cafe attack, saying it would tarnish the country’s image.