Hundreds of anti-government protesters clashed with police in Zagreb on Saturday, in violence that left some 33 injured.
The demonstrators attacked police cordons with bricks, bottles and flares, while police responded with batons and tear gas.
According to police, the protesters, which included football hooligans, were trying to reach Zagreb’s St. Mark’s Square, where the government is located, and were blocked because protests are not allowed in the square.
Police detained some 58 people, including at least one reporter.
“Their aim was to create unrest and behave violently towards police,” police official Tomislav Buterin was quoted by the AFP as saying.
At the same time, around 15,000 protesters gathered in central Zagreb to voice their support for Croatian veterans, particularly Tihomir Purda, who was arrested in Bosnia in January and is awaiting extradition to Serbia, where he is wanted on suspicion of war crimes.
The arrest of Purda has heightened tensions between Serbia and Croatia, where he is considered by many to be a war hero. The veterans have called on the Croatian government to prevent Purda’s extradition and protect other war veterans from possible prosecution or extradition.
The protest was organised by an organisation known as “the Association of Croatian Defenders 1991-1996”.
Zagreb also saw clashes between anti-government protesters and police on Thursday night, with demonstrators demanding the resignation of Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor.