Bulgaria: 168 held in 2nd night of unrest

2011-09-28 11:01
Sofia - More than 160 people were arrested in Bulgaria after hundreds rallied across major cities for a second straight night following clashes between a Roma clan leader and his fellow villagers, police said on Wednesday.

About 2 200 people took part in the second night of demonstrations, the police said in a statement.

The protests have been provoked by the worst outbreak of unrest for years in the European Union's poorest country.

Hundreds of young people, frustrated over the lack of opportunities in a weak economic recovery and what many describe as a climate of impunity for organised criminals, took to the streets in 14 towns.

"A total of 168 have been arrested for violation of public order, the majority - for possession of small bombs, knives, bats, pipes from vacuum cleaners, kitchen meat hammers," the Interior Ministry press office said in a statement.

Tension has built since residents of Katunitsa, 160km east of Sofia, blamed Roma leader Kiril Rashkov for the death of a 19-year-old man and set alight several of his houses and cars at the weekend.

The police said on Wednesday that Rashkov had been arrested the previous night and charged with making a murder threat.

Bulgaria's chief prosecutor has called for quick arrests of people who incite racial and ethnic tension in the Balkan country, where Roma make up five percent of the population.

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