Riot Police Scatter Violent Protesters in Bulgaria's Sofia
Riot police, gendarmerie and Civic Protection units joined forces to scatter a violent protest rally with anti-Roma slogans in Bulgaria's capital Sofia Monday night.
The clashes between protesters and riot police in downtown Sofia got out of hand as close to a thousand protesters tried to target the Sofia mosque.
After clashing briefly with police and gendarmerie forces at the National Assembly square near the Parliament building in Sofia, the protesters decided to target the Sofia Mosque Banya Bashi, but were repulsed by the riot police on the spot.
The mosque was cordoned off and the police stopped the traffic in the entire area.
It has been confirmed that the police forces in Sofia resorted to mobilizing staff from the Civic Protection service. Many of the top riot police detachments from Sofia were transported and deployed in Plovdiv and the village of Katunitsa Sunday night.
As they tried to target the mosque, the protesters were met by riot police near the Bulgarian Presidency and Council of Ministers buildings, and were repulsed and chased down the Vitosha Blvd, the main shopping street in Sofia.
While running away from the police, the protesters knocked down garbage containers but were met by other police units and were ultimately scattered before they could reach the National Palace of Culture square.
It is unclear how many protesters have been arrested in Sofia. Reports said that hundreds have been arrested in the southern Bulgarian city of Plovdiv.
The clashes erupted after protesters started to throw stones and bottles at the police on the square before the Parliament building, with the situation reminding a scene from a Bulgarian stadium with high activity on part of football hooligans.
The downtown of the Bulgarian capital was in chaos Monday night, and it is still unclear how the clashes will develop throughout the night.
The government and the police authorities have made no formal statements about the situation.
The new rallies, which were organized on Facebook and started at 7 pm in both Sofia and Plovdiv, come after on Sunday Plovdiv nearly became the center of ethnic clashes between ethnic Bulgarians and ethnic Roma over the weekend, following the murder in the nearby village of Katunitsa of 19-year-old Angel Petrov by associates of notorious Roma boss Kiril Rashkov, aka Tsar Kiro, committed Friday night.
The murder of Angel Petrov, who was deliberately run over by a mini-bus, according to witnesses, led to massive protests of the ethnic Bulgarians in the village of Katunitsa against Rashkov's Roma clan on Saturday, culminating Saturday night into the burning of Rashkov's properties by football hooligans from Plovdiv.
The tensions grew in Plovdiv on Sunday, the day of Petrov's funeral, when the police barely prevented clashes between a protest rally and local Roma in Roma-populated quarters Stolipinovo, Sheker Mahala, and Adzhisan Mahala.
A video of Sunday night's protest rally in Sofia before clashes erupted VIEW HERE
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