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Bosnian Serbs try to attack U.S. consulate

  • Story Highlights
  • Police fire tear gas at hundreds of Bosnian Serb rioters in Banja Luka, Bosnia
  • Group broke away from a 100,000-strong rally against Kosovo independence
  • Rioters attacked and injured police with stones, broke shop windows
  • Police arrested some demonstrators, although it was not clear how many
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SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNN) -- Hundreds of Bosnian-Serb demonstrators broke away from a peaceful rally in Banja Luka on Tuesday and headed for the U.S. Embassy's office there, clashing with police along the way, a police spokesman said.

Bosnian Serb protestors clash with police after a large rally against Kosovo's independence in Western Bosnian town of Banja Luka.

The errant demonstrators threw rocks at police as they tried to reach the embassy's branch office -- which was closed -- and police responded with tear gas.

The protesters never reached the embassy's office; adjacent streets had been closed in anticipation of the demonstration in Banja Luka, Bosnia's second largest city.

Police said the violent demonstrators numbered about 600 or 700, and had broken away from a 100,000-strong rally of Bosnian Serbs protesting Kosovo's recent declaration of independence.

Police arrested some demonstrators, although it was not clear how many.

Because the United States supports Kosovo's independence, U.S. diplomatic missions in the region have been a target of protests since the Serbian province declared independence on February 17.

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Last Thursday, protesters smashed windows and set fire to part of the U.S. Embassy in the Serbian capital, Belgrade.

One protester died, his burned body found in the U.S. embassy complex.

No embassy staff members were wounded, but all non-essential staff and their families were evacuated.

The U.S. Embassy's Banja Luka branch office was closed in anticipation of Tuesday's planned protest and the American officer normally stationed there was temporarily relocated to the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo.

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A warden message posted on the U.S. Embassy's Web site warns that "demonstrations may also occur in other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly in areas within the Republika Srpska on February 26 and could reoccur on succeeding days.

"Americans should monitor the media for updates and further details of times and locations and should consider deferring travel to Banja Luka at this time." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Journalist Samir Krilic in Sarajevo contributed to this report.

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