Bosnia on edge after protest violence

2014-02-08 12:51
Bosnian policemen try to hold off protestors in their attempt to storm of local government building in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo. (File, AFP)

Bosnian policemen try to hold off protestors in their attempt to storm of local government building in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo. (File, AFP)

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Sarajevo - The acrid smell of smoke hung over Bosnia's capital Saturday after rampaging protesters set fire to government buildings in countrywide riots that left over 150 injured.

The streets of Sarajevo were calm after firemen spent the night dousing the flames which almost gutted one regional government building, consuming cars and newsstands nearby.

The city braced itself for further protests after three consecutive days of anger over the dire state of the Balkan country's economy left several hundred injured since flaring on Wednesday.

Police had used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the protesters in the capital, where a presidential office was also set ablaze.

Protests also turned violent in the northeastern town of Tuzla, southern Mostar, the central town of Zenica and northwestern Bihac where protesters stormed regional government offices.

The protests reflect growing despair over the desperate state of the economy in Balkan country, where unemployment stands at 44% and where one in five people live below the poverty line.

Many of those injured on Friday were policemen, emergency services chief Softic Taljanovic told AFP.

"This is so sad, to see the towns ablaze less than 20 years after living through another hell," Jasminka Fisic, an unemployed resideent of Sarajevo told AFP, referring to country's bloody 1992-1995 interethnic war that left 100 000 dead.

"People are entitled to act and say what they think, but not to demolish towns," she said.

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