Bosnia Protests Injure Dozens as Government Office Burns

Bosnian protesters set a regional government building ablaze and clashes injured dozens of people in the country’s north in a third day of demonstrations against corruption and unpaid wages.

In the capital Sarajevo, a group of protesters threw rocks at police in front of government offices while hundreds of others watched, Irfan Nefic, spokesman for the Sarajevo police, said by phone. In Tuzla, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) north where activists set fire to the government building, a police spokesman said 13 protesters and 49 police were injured.

“The attackers obtained hydrochloric acid and mixed it with lime,” Tuzla Canton police spokesman Izudin Saric said by phone. “They filled bottles with the mixture and threw them at police officers.”

Workers from formerly state-owned companies began protesting on Wednesday in Tuzla, a town of 120,000 people, and then demonstrations spread to the nearby industrial towns of Zenica and Bihac. Employed at Salt company Dita, wood processor Konjuh and chemical product makers Guming, Polihem and Poliolchem, they want payment of back wages and benefits after their companies were sold into private hands and then went bankrupt.

“Our demands are to save the companies that can be saved, to pay past years of service to workers in companies that cannot be saved, and that wages to ministers in the Tuzla government are reduced,” Denisa Ceramovic, a local social worker from Tuzla, told Slon TV broadcaster.

Union leader Dzevad Mehmedovic said workers at Dita hadn’t been paid in 26 months, according to news portal www.starmo.ba. At 28 percent of the workforce, unemployment in mineral-rich Bosnia is the highest among former Yugoslavia’s republics.

The government said it was open to discuss demands and it would pursue anyone who unlawfully profited from an improper sale of state assets, saying in a statement on its website that it was necessary to “determine responsibility and punish those responsible for privatization theft and corporate crime.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Gordana Filipovic in Belgrade at gfilipovic@bloomberg.net; Misha Savic in Belgrade at msavic2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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