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Bosnian Serbs Celebrate Controversial 'Republika Srpska Day'

Bosnian Serbs Celebrate Controversial 'Republika Srpska Day'
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Bosnian Serbs have celebrated a controversial holiday despite strong opposition from other ethnic groups in Bosnia-Herzegovina who view it as discriminatory.

Several thousand people, waving Serbian flags, lined the streets of Banja Luka, the capital of Bosnia's Serbian entity, Republika Srpska, to watch a celebratory parade of security troops, firefighters, and cultural and sport groups.

The January 9 holiday, which is called Republika Srpska Day, marks the date in 1992 when Bosnian Serbs declared their own state in Bosnia, triggering a devastating four-year war that killed over 100,000 people and left millions homeless.

Although the Constitutional Court declared the holiday unconstitutional on November 26, 2015, the celebrations were attended by Republika Srpska's president, Zeljka Cvijanovic, and Serbia's prime minister, Ana Brnabic.

"I want everyone to celebrate this great day, to celebrate what we have achieved," Cvijanovic told the crowd. "Long live Republika Srpska!" she added.

Russia's ambassador to Bosnia, Pyotr Ivantsov, also attended the ceremonies.

Bosnia's Muslims and Croats have insisted that the celebration is not representative for all ethnic groups who live in Republika Srpska.

With reporting by AP