Late Saturday, the defence ministry announced that two soldiers were slightly injured and had taken into custody a Russian man aged 24 who tried to take photographs. He refused to be arrested and used spray against soldiers.
Nearby, two other suspects were also arrested: a 33-year old Russian woman and a 25-year-old Ukrainian man.
Niko Peleshi, Defence Minister, said Sunday that it was too soon to know the motive. However, he referred to geopolitics which apparently indicates a possible connection to Russia’s invasion in Ukraine. This has been condemned by the Albanian government.
After visiting the wounded soldiers at the hospital, he stated that “in view of the wide regional context and geopolitical context this cannot be dismissed just as an ordinary civilian incident.”
The Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, stated that the three suspects were “suspected” of spying. He did not give any additional details.
Tirana-based media reported that the suspects were bloggers who visited abandoned military bases in other countries.
Peleshi stated that the investigation would reveal if they were bloggers, and what their motives are.
AK 47 rifles were produced by the Gramsh factory during communist rule in Albania.
According to the ministry’s website, the plant provides manufacturing services to the defense industry. It was used in the past to also dismantle small arms, ammunition.
Police said that four Czech nationals were detained at the Polican Military Plant in a similar incident.
Two Czech women were first spotted by police outside the plant, while two men were later found in the tunnels.
Tirana media reported that all four of them were tourists.
The Polican plant was used by communism to make ammunition for the Russian-made rifle AK 47, hand grenades and anti-tank mines. Foreign tourists who visited the area previously were able to get into the tunnels that made the ammunition and have posted their photos online.
The photos showed an abandoned area where you can see old bullet rounds and machines.
Albania, which is a NATO member since 2009, joined the United States, other Western countries, and condemned Russia’s invasion in Ukraine. It also introduced sanctions against Moscow.