Tuzla, Reuters—Thousands of protesters in Bosnia set fire to government buildings and fought with riot police on Friday as anger over unemployment and political inertia fueled a third day of the worst civil unrest in the country since the 1992–1995 war.
Tear gas and smoke blanketed downtown Sarajevo, where police fired rubber bullets on the angry crowds.
In the northern town of Tuzla, protests over factory closures turned violent for a third day. Demonstrators who clashed with police threw stones at the headquarters of the local authority before setting it on fire. Trapped by the flames, some workers leapt from windows, according to a Reuters photographer.
At least eight people were injured in the Tuzla protests, police said, including two police officers, one of them seriously.
A government building in the central town of Zenica was also set alight, local media reported.
Protesters, many of whom were responding to calls on Facebook to take to the streets, chanted “Thieves!” and “Revolution!”
Starting on Wednesday in Tuzla, once the industrial heart of northern Bosnia, small protests have spread to towns and cities across the impoverished former Yugoslav republic, where more than one in four of the workforce is jobless.
The civil unrest is unprecedented in postwar Bosnia, where Serbs, Croats and Muslim Bosniaks have tolerated political stagnation for years rather than risk a return to conflict.
Bosnia’s recovery has been held hostage to an unwieldy power-sharing system based on ethnic quotas set in the US-brokered peace deal that ended the war, in which an estimated 100,000 people died.
Ethnic politicking has stymied governance and left the country trailing its ex-Yugoslav peers on the road to membership of the European Union, which neighboring Croatia joined last year.
The government of Bosnia’s autonomous Federation, made up mainly of Croats and Bosniaks, held an emergency session and called on protesters to negotiate.
“As long as there are ethnic divisions, deeply rooted corruption and nepotism there will be no solution for this society,” political analyst Gojko Beric told Reuters.