Dozens injured and arrested in Podgorica riot

Other News Materials 14 October 2008 19:40 (UTC +04:00)

More than 30 people were injured and 28 were arrested in violent pro-Serbia protests in the Montenegrin capital Podgorica Monday night, local media reported Tuesday, reported dpa.

Podgorica was calm on Tuesday, but Montenegrin police banned a further protest planned for Thursday. The government will hold an emergency session to discuss Monday's unrest.

Summoned by opposition parties, a crowd of several thousand rallied late Monday evening against Podgorica's recognition of Serbia's breakaway province Kosovo.

At the rally, opposition politicians demanded that Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic's cabinet revoke the recognition of Kosovo by Wednesday and schedule a referendum on whether to acknowledge it.

Toward the end of the protest, some demonstrators started throwing stones and flares at police guarding the parliament building, triggering violence.

Police responded with tear gas and dispersed the crowd within 20 minutes. But clashes in side streets continued over the next hour, Podgorica daily Vijesti said. Belgrade media reported that rubber bullets were also fired.

During the protest, 23 policemen and 11 citizens were injured and 28 people were arrested. Several automobiles were destroyed, as were windows in downtown shops.

The leader of the opposition Serbian List, Andrija Mandic, accused the authorities of provoking the incident and began a hunger strike in front of the parliament building.

Police issued a statement saying they were working to identify "several small groups of aggressive persons" responsible for the attack on police guarding administrative buildings.

Montenegro's cabinet on Thursday recognized Kosovo, eight months after the Albanian-dominated province declared independence from Serbia. Belgrade immediately expelled the Montenegrin ambassador and threatened other measures against its fellow former Yugoslav republic.

Montenegro was the last of the former Yugoslav republics to split from a federation with Serbia, in 2006. Relations between the two countries have remained uneasy at best and were further aggravated last week.

The recognition by Montenegro and another Serbian neighbour, Macedonia, brings the number of countries recognizing Kosovo to 50, among them the United States, 22 out of the 27 EU nations and Japan.