Serb Bar in Croatia Attacked during Football Match
A group of masked men attacked a Serb-owned bar in Croatia where patrons were watching Red Star Belgrade in a Champions League match, the owner said Thursday, with a Serb MP slamming the incident as a "hate crime".
Five people were injured in the assault on Wednesday night in Uzdolje, a village in Croatia's Knin region which is home to a large Serb minority population, police said in a statement.
"They broke in masked, only their eyes could be seen. They had sticks and batons. They screamed 'damn you, you are watching Red Star! And then the chaos began," the ethnic Serb owner of the bar, Boris Petko, told local channel TV Nova.
"Everything was flying around, kids were jumping and screaming... It was horrible," he said. "It happened just because I am Serb."
Police said they have detained several people and are investigating the incident, as well as a similar attack in another nearby village during the Champions League playoff between Red Star and Swiss team Young Boys.
In both incidents "several unknown people verbally and then physically attacked the owner and guests and damaged inventory," police said, without commenting on their ethnicity.
The relationship between Croats and the Serb minority in Knin is still tense almost 25 years after the end of the 1991-1995 independence war that separated Croatia from Serbia and the rest of then-Yugoslavia.
Boris Milosevic, a Serb minority leader and MP in Croatia's parliament, condemned the incidents as "another attack against Serbs."
Writing on Facebook, he called it a "savage and cowardly act" and a "hate crime."
Croatia's Health Minister Milan Kujundzic said none of the injuries were critical but described the incident as "a shame."