Croatian Serb leaders condemned on Thursday two attacks by masked assailants on local Serbs watching a televised football match near the town of Knin.
The Serbs in the villages of Uzdolje and Djevrske were watching a game involving Red Star from the Serbian capital Belgrade when the attackers burst into the bars, media reports said. Five, including a minor, were lightly injured.
Police in Sibenik-Knin County confirmed the attack, specifying that five persons were injured in the attack in Uzdolje, one of which was a minor. Just 20 minutes later, they received information about the attack in Djevrske, in which no one was hurt. The bar itself was damaged.
Police said a number of people were taken in for questioning on Thursday. Knin was a Serb rebel stronghold during Croatia’s 1991-95 war during the collapse of federal Yugoslavia. Anja Simpraga, deputy prefect of Sibenik-Knin County, said there were also British, US and French nationals present. One of the injured persons was 17 years old. His father said the teenager was bleeding when he arrived home.
“He was sitting right by the door [of the bar] when someone came in and hit him on the head, and he [the son] fell; and as he fell, then once again, someone hit him on the back,” the father, whose name was not revealed, told N1 TV.
The father described it as the first apparently ethnically-motivated incident in the 15 years the family had lived in the area.
Boris Milosevic, president of the Serbian National Council and an MP supporting the government majority, took to Facebook to condemn “unfortunately yet another attack on Serbs”.
“This summer, after the death of Radoje Petkovic at Viskovo [near the city of Rijeka], the attack on the Red Star water polo players on the Split waterfront and the attack on seasonal workers on [the island of] Brac, we have another hate crime, where the attackers attacked and tried to hurt more people motivated solely by hatred of the nationality of the attacked,” Milosevic wrote.
Petkovic, 63, vice-president of the Serbian National Minority Council for the town of Kastav near Rijeka, died on June 10, weeks after he was beaten unconscious by 48-year-old Ilija Glavic, a Croatian war veteran.
On February 9, a group of men attacked three Red Star Belgrade water polo players in the coastal city of Split. The Croatian government and President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic condemned the attack.
On June 9, a group of five men, members of Hajduk Split ultras Torcida, attacked four seasonal workers in the town of Supetar on Brac. Two of the workers were Croatian Serbs distinguished by the attackers by their dialect.
Milosevic called the attack on Wednesday “a barbaric and cowardly act”, adding that there were women and children in the bar.
“This is not an ultras showdown. Any attempt to relativise this ugly event means justifying violence and siding with the attacker. Will the production of hate stop?” he asked.
Health Minister Milan Kujundzic condemned the incident.