Police recapture Moldova parliament building after clashes

April 8th, 2009 - 2:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Chisinau (Moldova), April 8 (DPA) Moldovan police early Wednesday recaptured the parliament building here, which was occupied by demonstrators and set ablaze during deadly clashes amid anti-Communist rioting.
Anti-riot troopers wearing armour and helmets arrested 10 to 20 protesters in the vicinity. The demonstrators, most of them students, offered no resistance.

A crowd of as many as 20,000 had gathered in the central square of Moldova’s capital Tuesday evening, overrunning a pair of key government buildings and putting law enforcers to flight.

By the time police recaptured parliament and the adjacent presidential residence at around 1 a.m. (2200 GMT), almost all of the demonstrators had gone home.

Paramilitary police took up positions in the centre of the city and were visible preparing barriers around parliament and the presidential residence as well as inside the buildings.

Opposition leaders in speeches Tuesday vowed to intensify demonstrations Wednesday on the strength of reinforcements brought in from Moldova’s countryside.

Tuesday’s violence in Chisinau left one woman dead from apparent smoke inhalation inside the blazing parliament, Moldova-1 television reported.

Demonstrators met little resistance from police Tuesday afternoon, and hundreds of protesters broke into both the parliament building and the presidential residence.

One wing of parliament was badly damaged by fire. Demonstrators tossed office furniture and computers through smashed windows as high as six storeys above the pavement and later built bonfires from the debris.

About 100 people were reported injured in the rioting, which erupted as the political opposition protested the Communist Party’s recent election victory, alleging fraud.

Opposition leaders late Tuesday appeared taken somewhat aback by the intensity and extent of the violence caused by their supporters and aired live over Moldovan television.

Vladimir Filat, leader of the opposition Liberal-Democrat Party, accused the ruling Communists of intentionally avoiding a violent police response toward the protesters “as a way to throw all guilt on the opposition”.

President Vladimir Voronin, also leader of Moldova’s Communist Party, in a national television address condemned the opposition for instigating the civic chaos, the worst seen in the former Soviet republic in a half-decade.

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