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Croatia arrests eight over attack on Serb bar


Police watch participants arriving at a Catholic ceremony. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

Croatian police have arrested eight suspects accused of storming a bar and attacking Serbs while they were watching a Red Star Belgrade match on television last week, police said Wednesday.

The incident has led to heightened tensions between Belgrade and Zagreb, whose relationship is still bitter a quarter-century after they fought during Croatia’s independence war in the 1990s.

The suspects were arrested in the southern Split region, police said in a statement, adding that the criminal investigation was continuing.


The assault took place last Wednesday in the village of Uzdolje in Croatia’s Knin region, which is home to a Serb minority.

According to the Serb owner of the bar, a group of hooded men stormed inside and wielded bats, injuring five people and damaging the premises.

“They screamed ‘damn you, you are watching Red Star!'” he said.

Local newspaper Jutarnji List reported that most of the suspects were under the age of 22, while one was 25 and another was 28.

A local Serb MP in Croatia denounced the incident as a “hate crime”, while Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic condemned it as “terrible”.

He also drew criticism from Zagreb for saying it was “understandable why most (Serbs in Croatia) rebelled against such a regime” after Zagreb declared independence from then-Yugoslavia in 1991.

Last week Croatian police arrested two others accused of destroying another cafe in the Knin region during the Red Star match against the Swiss Young Boys in the Champions League.

Following a second draw against the Young Boys on Tuesday, Red Star now advances into the group stage of the League, as do their old rivals Dinamo Zagreb.


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