Bosnian War Vets Protest Benefits Cuts
Unrest on the streets of Sarajevo, as veterans of Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war protest cuts in their benefits.
Thousands of former soldiers and their families came here from across the country’s Muslim-Croat federation.
The protests first turned violent as demonstrators attacked government buildings, prompting riot police to respond with tear gas.
Hospital sources say at least fifteen protesters were injured – two of them seriously.
The cuts in veterans benefits come after Bosnia clinched a stand-by deal with the International Monetary Fund last year to help ease effects of the global financial crisis.
The deal’s conditions stipulate the governments of Bosnia’s two regions – the Muslim-Croat federation and the Serb Republic – must make cuts to public spending.
This includes cuts to the generous benefits first granted to veterans as a pre-election sweetener in 2006.
Payments to war-related groups once accounted for 40 percent of the region’s budget before stricter laws were enacted.