Thousands of concrete bunkers, built in Albania by the most eccentric of communist-era governments to guard against invasion, have been taken over by the homeless.

About 300,000 pill-boxes, each costing the equivalent of a two-room apartment and built on the orders of Albania's former leader Enver Hoxha to defend the country from "imperialism and revisionism," dot the mostly mountainous Balkan country.That's one for every 10 Albanians.

Since the fall of communism, the Albanian army has cleaned and patched up bunkers near the borders, especially those on the tense frontier with Yugoslavia.

Others in the interior are being smashed up, not by the state which cannot afford the cost of demolition, but by Albanians wielding hammers and chisels who use the concrete and iron reinforcing bars for building materials.

For many other Albanians, usually migrants from remote villages in the north of the country, the bigger bunkers, built to house 75mm guns, are providing shelter.

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The capital Tirana is surrounded by concentric rings of these defenses.

Jonuz Kasmi, 49, from Peshkopia district 125 miles east of the capital, found one next to a main road.

"It's been a good shelter for me since I repaired it," he said. "Now my family of six must concentrate on finding food."

Inside, the bunker is well-kept. There is a double bed for Kasmi and his wife and three beds for the children.

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