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Bosnian War Veterans Clash With Police In Sarajevo

A number of people were reportedly hurt in the scuffles between police and protesters.
A number of people were reportedly hurt in the scuffles between police and protesters.

Police in the Bosnian capital have clashed with several hundred veterans of the country's 1992-95 war who are protesting for more rights and a unified register of all demobilized fighters.

The protesters on September 5 gathered in front of the parliament of Bosnia’s Muslim-Croat Federation, one of Bosnia-Herzegovina's two entities, before blocking the main street in Sarajevo.

Police with shields and helmets used tear gas to disperse the demobilized fighters from the former Bosnian Army and Croatian Defense Council, some of whom were carrying batons.

A number of people were reportedly hurt in the scuffle.

The Federal Ministry of Interior told RFE/RL that two protesters were detained.

Bosniak and Bosnian Croat war veterans have held protests for months, demanding the payment of 326 Bosnian marks ($194) a month in benefits for unemployed veterans and for every former soldier to get up to three Bosnian marks ($1.8) for each month they served during wartime.

The protesters also want the government to cut funding for about 1,600 veterans associations, which they say are not handing out benefits in an equitable fashion.

They say they want the government to make payments directly to individual veterans.

In addition, they are seeking the establishment of a unified register of all veterans to weed out people who have falsely declared that they served in the war.

There are no accurate records of how many former soldiers are eligible for benefits, after many people falsely declared themselves to be veterans, and protesters want the unified register to purge all fake names.

Since the end of the war, Bosnia has consisted of two separate entities -- the Muslim-Croat Federation and the ethnic Serb-dominated Republika Srpska. Each has its own government and the two are linked by weak central institutions.

With reporting by AP and Balkan Insight

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