May 5, 2016 / 1:18 PM / in 2 years

Three Bulgarian police injured in clashes with anti-Roma crowd

SOFIA (Reuters) - Three Bulgarian police officers were injured when anti-Roma protesters tried to break through a cordon during a demonstration in the southern town of Radnevo, the interior ministry said on Thursday.

Some 2,000 people took part in Wednesday night’s protest over an incident two days earlier in which four Roma men have been charged with the attempted murder of three young men.

The three were beaten and one of them was stabbed in a dispute in Radnevo, 255 km (160 miles) east of the capital Sofia. Six protesters were hurt in Wednesday’s demonstration, and the interior ministry said one of the policemen had suffered a serious head injury.

More big rallies are planned this week, showing how even minor disputes can swiftly escalate in the European Union’s poorest state, fueled by unemployment, organized crime, corruption and ethnic tensions.

Some of the demonstrators on Wednesday tried to march into a Roma neighborhood, hurling stones and other objects. The protesters allege that Roma crime is often left unpunished, and troublemakers involved in a range of criminal activities behave as if they are untouchable.

A number of anti-Roma protests have taken place in the Balkan country in the last few years. Local problems have sometimes been hijacked by nationalists as a pretext to retaliate against Roma in Bulgarian cities.

Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

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