Dozens wounded as police clash with protesters in Serbia

By bne IntelliNews July 8, 2020

Dozens of protesters were wounded in the second day of rallies in Serbia when thousands of people took to the streets of capital Belgrade and the towns of Novi Sad, Nis and Kragujevac, angered by the latest measures announced by President Aleksandar Vucic in an attempt to contain the new spike in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.

On July 7, Vucic announced a curfew this weekend and a ban on gatherings of more than five people as of July 8. This brought out several thousand people in Belgrade the same evening, with the protests turning violent and police using tear gas and beating people.

On July 8, more people gathered, demanding a new crisis team and seeking responsibility from the police commander for the use of excessive force in the previous day. Balkan Insight published video showing police brutality.

Protesters in Belgrade were throwing stones at the police and they again used tear gas and force. Local media described the situation as similar to civil war.

Late on July 8, N1 reported that the gendarmery has been called in and seemed to be preparing to attack protesters. However, they were forced to return to armed vehicles by the angry protesters who were constantly throwing stones.

The leader of the far-right opposition party Dveri, Bosko Obradovic, was reportedly beaten by the police and wounded along with several others.

In Novi Sad, b92 reported that protesters broke the windows of the office of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and attempted to break into the town hall. Protesters used stones and Molotov cocktails to attack the building.

A team from public broadcaster RTS said to have been attacked while reporting on the field.

Earlier on July 8, Vucic said the authorities have evidence that foreign services from the region were involved in the protests but provided no details. He also said he would not give up the decision to re-impose restrictions as the number of new cases is rising sharply and reached 357 on July 8.

Serbia started opening field hospitals in the last few days as the healthcare system is overloaded due to the many coronavirus cases.

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