Police use tear gas to disperse protesters in Croatia

Over 15,000 anti-government protesters rally in Zagreb; dozens throw stones and bricks at police; several injured, windows broken.

February 26, 2011 18:43
1 minute read.
Croatian anti-riot police clash with protesters

Croatia protests 311. (photo credit: AP)

ZAGREB, Croatia — Some 15,000 anti-government protesters rallied in the Croatian capital on Saturday, and state television reported that some clashed with police, who used tear gas to disperse them.

Dozens of mostly young demonstrators charged at a police cordon preventing them from reaching a central square in Zagreb where the government headquarters is located, the Croatian TV said.

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The protesters threw stones and bricks at police, who responded with tear gas, the report said, adding that several people were injured and nearby windows were broken. Special police set up metal fences to corral the crowd, the report added, describing the situation as "chaos."

Nearby, at another Zagreb square, thousands protested peacefully against the government and in support of a Croat war veteran awaiting extradition to Serbia in a Bosnian prison. They carried banners reading "Croat defenders are heroes" and "Stop the prosecution of Croat defenders."

The organizers, veterans' groups from Croatia's 1991-95 war, said hundreds of protesters were prevented by police from reaching the event, the Hina news agency reported.

The protests in Zagreb come just two days after several hundred protesters clashed with police at another anti-government rally. Many Croats also blame the government for economic hardship and alleged corruption.

Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor has urged an end to the protests, warning that instability could undermine Croatia's efforts to join the European Union. President Ivo Josipovic has appealed for the protests to remain peaceful.

The Serb-Croat war erupted when Croatia declared independence from Serb-led Yugoslavia.

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