BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina Police fired tear gas at Bosnian Serb rioters Tuesday to prevent them from storming the building of the U.S. consulate after protests against Kosovo's independence.
A group split away from the almost 10,000 peaceful protesters in Banja Luka and headed toward the consulate, breaking shop windows and throwing stones at police who blocked the streets leading to the building with armored vehicles.
A rain of stones poured down on police before officers fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. Several officers were seen limping. Police were also seen detaining several demonstrators as they withdrew to a nearby park.
Hundreds of hooligans attacked the U.S. embassy in downtown Belgrade Thursday, setting part of it on fire and smashing windows. One person died and hundreds were injured and arrested.
Some bystanders returning from the peaceful part of Tuesday's protest yelled "shame on you!" at the rioters and one man, apparently a former Bosnian Serb soldier, shouted, "This is not what I fought for!"
The incident occurred despite repeated calls by organizers to hold a peaceful protest against Kosovo's independence. Police secured diplomatic missions in the city and warned it would use all legal means to prevent violence.
Tuesday's protest begun with participants gathering peacefully at the main square in downtown Banja Luka, carrying Serbian flags, pictures of Russian President Vladimir Putin and banners reading "No America." At least one U.S. flag had a swastika scribbled on it.
Bosnia consists of two mini-states, one run by Bosnian Serbs, the other by Bosnians and Croats. The Bosnian Serb parliament has condemned Kosovo's declaration of independence and said it will consider a referendum to secede from Bosnia if more countries recognize an independent Kosovo.