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Albanian police bolster siege at lawless village

Albanian special forces police surround the marijuana-growing village of Lazarat, south of the capital Tirana, Monday June 16, 2014. Gangs based in Lazarat are believed to produce about 900 metric tons of cannabis a year, worth about 4.5 billion euros ($6.1 billion) _ roughly half the small Balkan country
Albanian special forces police surround the marijuana-growing village of Lazarat, south of the capital Tirana, Monday June 16, 2014. Gangs based in Lazarat are believed to produce about 900 metric tons of cannabis a year, worth about 4.5 billion euros ($6.1 billion) _ roughly half the small Balkan country's GDP. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)
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By The Associated Press

TIRANA, Albania - Albanian authorities are sending hundreds more police to a lawless southern village where suspected marijuana growers used rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and machine-guns in response to a police drug raid.

Police said Tuesday they were increasing their numbers on the outskirts of Lazarat from 500 to 800 after sporadic shooting continued overnight, wounding a special forces police officer.

Authorities said six men were arrested on suspicion of participating in the shootout and of attacking a local television news crew.

On Monday, hundreds of police stormed Lazarat, 230 kilometres (140 miles) south of the capital, Tirana, after some 30 suspected marijuana growers opened fire with heavy weaponry during the raid. Police say they destroyed 11,000 cannabis plants and found marijuana in barrels and sacks.

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