A series of violent protests have spread suddenly across Bosnia-Herzegovina, with demonstrators setting fire to buildings, and police in the capital firing rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse crowds. Dozens were reported to have been injured.
More than five thousand protesters took to the streets in the northern Bosnian town of Tuzla on Friday, the third day of mass protests, at one point storming a government building to show their dissatisfaction with the deteriorating economic situation in the country.
“The people entered the government building,” said Mirna Kovacevic, a student who witnessed the protests. “They climbed to the fourth floor and started to throw files, computers, chairs from buildings. They burned parts of the building … Four storeys are blackened. People have burned the stuff that was thrown outside … Some people are trying to put the fire out. It’s hectic,” she said.
Protests spread quickly to about 20 towns and cities. The gathering in Sarajevo, which was attended by about 3,000 people, also became violent. Citizens threw rocks at police and entered a regional government building, forcing police to evacuate it. Police fought back with rubber bullets and stun grenades.
After protesters entered the Sarajevo building, they broke windows and threw objects from inside on to the lawn. In Zenica, another central Bosnia town, protesters set fire to part of the local government building.
Dozens of people have been injured in the clashes. The first protest in Tuzla, which took place on Wednesday, was started by about 200 workers who got fired after the unsuccessful privatisations of big formerly state-owned companies.
However, the protests became bigger, after younger people joined in, showing their unhappiness with the difficult economic situation and unemployment in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is officially at 27.5%.