ALBANIA SEALS PORT IN ATTEMPT TO QUELL WOULD-BE REFUGEES

ALBANIA SEALS PORT IN ATTEMPT TO QUELL WOULD-BE REFUGEES

Police sealed Albania's major port, Durres, and ordered ships off-shore Friday after thousands of would-be refugees flocked there in the hope of fleeing a country racked by poverty, looting and violence.

About 20 warehouses in Lushnje, south of the capital, were plundered and set ablaze. Some local people said corrupt officials had hoarded supplies."People were sent home by force," television said, showing pictures of an empty harbor calculated to discourage others from heading for the port.

Crowds were also reported to have gathered at the smaller port of Shengjin, 50 miles north of Tirana, the capital.

The would-be refugees, hoping to follow a mass exodus of Albanians who fled in commandeered ships last year, arrived as looting and violence raged elsewhere in the country for the fourth successive day.

At least three people have been killed in the latest wave of rioting to sweep the former Stalinist state as it lurches toward elections in three weeks time amid political and economic chaos.

Prime Minister Vilson Ahmeti last week called for urgent military action to restore order.

Military reinforcements failed to quell looting in Pogradec, 120 miles southeast of Tirana, where crowds rummaged through the remains of ransacked factories and warehouses in the industrial zone.