By Gordana Andric
A wave of attacks on Albanian businesses in Serbia has occurred in the wake of the disastrous Serbia-Albania football match earlier this week.
Serbian police have arrested one person, following a series of attacks on Albanian-owned shops in Serbia that came after a football match raised tensions to boiling point in the country.
An 18-year-old man was arrested on Friday on suspicion of having taken part in attacks on two bakeries in the town of Banovci owned by ethnic Albanians.
Attacks on Albanian-owned businesses in the northern province of Vojvodina started after a football match between Albania and Serbia on October 14 ended in chaos and fighting on the pitch. The UK referee called off the match.
A day later, two shops in the towns of Stara Pazova and Sombor were set on fire while another in Serbia’s second city of Novi Sad was stoned.
The attacks continued on October 15. During the night a bakery in Novi Sad was burned, while hooligans damaged five more shops in Novi Sad and Vrsac.
Bajram Temaj, the owner of Novi Sad bakery that was torched on Thursday night, said police turned down his request for protection, which he had made after attacks started a day earlier.
He said the police had answered that they did not have enough patrol vehicles or the capacity to respond to his request.
Serbia’s Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vucic, condemned the attacks and stated that all citizens and their properties were entitled to protection.
“These are our citizens who work and pay taxes regularly and we will guarantee them full security,” he said. “These are criminal acts and the government will respond by protecting its citizens,” Vucic added.
Aleksandar Nikolic, State Secretary of the Interior Ministry, said Serbia would not tolerate the spread of religious and ethnic hatred, and that all those who destroyed property in this fashion would be punished.
“The ministry is working intensively to identify the individuals who have attacked facilities owned by our citizens of Albanian nationality,” Nikolic said.
He also stated that the police would guarantee the security of all the country’s citizens.
“We are doing everything in our power to prevented these and similar attacks, despite the brutal provocation at the football match”.
The “provocation” referred to was a drone that flew over the stadium in Belgrade bearing a map of Greater Albania.
Fighting then erupted on the pitch and some Albanian players were assaulted by Serbian fans who had invaded the field.
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