Serbian police have detained 71 people after clashes during the fourth night of anti-government protests that were initially sparked by the announcement of a new lockdown, a senior police official said Saturday.
Fourteen policemen were injured in the rioting when hundreds of protesters tried to storm the parliament building in downtown Belgrade on Friday evening, according to police director Vladimir Rebic.
Several reporters also have been hurt. Rioters threw bottles, rocks and flares at police who were guarding the parliament building, and police responded with tear gas to disperse them.
Similar clashes erupted twice earlier this week. The protests first started when President Aleksandar Vucic announced a strict curfew for this weekend.
Vucic later scrapped the plan to impose a new curfew. Authorities instead banned gatherings of more than 10 people in Belgrade — the capital — and shortened the working hours of indoor businesses.
On Friday, the Serbian prime minister announced a daily total of 18 COVID-19 deaths, the highest number since the start of the pandemic in the Balkan country.
Authorities reported 12 new deaths on Saturday and 354 new infections.
The country has over 18,000 confirmed infections and 382 deaths since March.
Vucic has claimed involvement of unspecified foreign security services in the unrest and pledged he won’t be overthrown in the streets.
Some opposition leaders, meanwhile, are blaming the rioting on groups they say are controlled by the government.
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