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Bosnia Rocked By Third Day Of Anti-Government Unrest

posted 7 Feb 2014, 08:14 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 7 Feb 2014, 08:14 ]

Violent unrest and clashes continue in Tuzla and Sarajevo as demonstrations in Bosnia against the closure and privatisation of state-owned firms enter their third day.

TUZLABOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA (FEBRUARY 7, 2014) (REUTERS) - Protesters in Bosnia set fire to government buildings and fought with riot police on Friday (February 7) as anger over unemployment and political inertia fuelled a third day of the worst civil unrest in the country since a 1992-95 war.

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In the northern town of Tuzla, protests over factory closures turned violent for a third day.

Demonstrators stoned and torched the seat of the local authority and clashed with police.

Trapped by the flames, some leapt from windows, a Reuters photographer said.

At least eight people were injured, police said, including two police officers, one of them seriously.

Meanwhile, teargas and smoke blanketed downtown Sarajevo, where police opened fire with rubber bullets on several thousand protesters who set fire to the headquarters of the capital's cantonal government.

A government building in the central town of Zenica was also set alight, local media reported. Protesters, many of whom heeded calls on Facebook to take to the streets, chanted "Thieves!" and "Revolution!"

Starting on Wednesday (February 5) in Tuzla, once the industrial heart of northern Bosnia, small protests have spread to towns and cities across the impoverished former Yugoslav republic, where more than one in four of the workforce is jobless.

The civil unrest is unprecedented in postwar Bosnia, where Serbs, Croats and Muslim Bosniaks have tolerated political stagnation for years rather than risk a return to conflict.

Bosnia's recovery has been held hostage to an unwieldy power-sharing system based on ethnic quotas set in the U.S.-brokered peace deal that ended the war, in which an estimated 100,000 people died.

Ethnic politicking has stymied governance and left the country trailing its ex-Yugoslav peers on the road to membership of the European Union, which neighbouring Croatia joined last year.

The government of Bosnia's autonomous Federation, made up mainly of Croats and Bosniaks, held an emergency session and called on protesters to negotiate.