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Thousands cheered early Friday when workers in Albania's capital toppled and towed away a bronze statue of Lenin, the last public monument to communism in the city.

The toppling of the 12-foot-high statue in Tirana followed Albania's acceptance into the world community it had shunned under four decades of harsh Stalinist rule.Some of the protesters, jeering and waving torches, had scaled the monument to the Soviet founder but failed to knock it over, according to a party statement received in Vienna.

Following an appeal from the party, authorities sent in a crane, a truck and welding equipment for workers to hack down the statue to "avoid trouble," the statement said.

After three hours, the statue was wrenched from its pedestal and was towed away to the crowd's cheers.