Fan in intensive care as violence erupts between rival fans in Bosnia

Fan in intensive care as violence erupts between rival fans in Bosnia
By Reuters

25/04/2013 at 18:41Updated 25/04/2013 at 19:22

Sixteen supporters and seven police officers were injured - two people seriously - in a mass fight on Wednesday when fans of rival clubs clashed in a central Bosnian village while heading to first division matches.

The police detained 62 of around 120 supporters of rival clubs Borac Banja Luka and Zeljeznicar Sarajevo who took part in a brawl in the village of Oborci, where they stopped on their way to different matches, a police spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Three supporters of Zeljeznicar were seriously injured and taken to hospital in Sarajevo, two of them with life-threatening head injuries. Six other supporters were admitted to a hospital in the central town of Travnik.

"One man was operated on and is still in intensive care but stable and conscious for now," Biljana Jandric, a Sarajevo hospital spokeswoman, told Reuters. The other one's life was not at risk, and the third one was released from hospital, she said.

The seven injured police officers were at the Travnik hospital, a spokeswoman for the central Bosnian regional police told Reuters.

Zeljeznicar fans were heading to the northwestern town of Prijedor for the match with Rudar and Borac supporters were on their way to Sarajevo where their club was taking on Olimpik Sarajevo.

Both convoys of supporters were escorted by local police but they could not stop the fight and had to ask for help from special police forces, the police spokeswoman said, adding that several vans were completely destroyed.

Hooligan violence is a common problem in Bosnia, reflecting ethnic divisions still running deep between the Balkan country's Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) after the 1992-95 war.

Borac is based in Bosnia's autonomous Serb Republic and Zeljeznicar in the Federation dominated by Bosniaks and Croats. Their fans have a long history of violent clashes.