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Yugoslav Police Break Up March

September 30, 1999

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ A day after baton-wielding police battered protesters trying to march on the Yugoslav president’s residence, opposition leaders say they are ready to band together to end the rule of Slobodan Milosevic.

The Alliance For Change and the Serbian Renewal Movement expressed optimism that a meeting today will help bridge differences among Yugoslavia’s opposition parties. Bickering among opposition leaders has undermined efforts to unseat Milosevic.

Illustrating the current rift in the opposition camp, The Serbian Renewal Movement, headed by opposition veteran Vuk Draskovic, has not joined in recent mass protests across Serbia against Milosevic, insisting that they could trigger civil war.

More than 60 people were injured, four seriously, in Wednesday’s protests, according to opposition parties who organized the rallies. Police sources said three officers were also injured in clashes with demonstrators.

Riot police charged into the crowd of about 30,000 people who had gathered on a main Belgrade boulevard that leads to the lush Dedjne district, where Milosevic has his residence.

The opposition began daily protests in several Serbian towns eight days ago, demanding Milosevic’s resignation because of the country’s deep ecomomic and social crisis. The clashes Wednesday were the first time police used violence against the protesters.

The Democratic Party, which leads the protests, said the incident was a display of ``extraordinary police brutality,″ with the riot police targeting women in the crowd and beating them on the head.

Several foreign and domestic reporters were beaten and their cameras were destroyed.

``In this country, they (the police) are not defending the constitution and the people ... they are defending the dictator and his missus,″ opposition leader Zoran Djindjic told protesters who gathered at a main square following the clash.

``Their (the Milosevics’) time is running out,″ he said. ``We must prevail, keep coming tomorrow and the day after and every day .... we will test their nerves every night. They will have no peace.″

After the demonstration disbanded, the Social Democratic Party, which takes part in the daily protests planned to be held until Milosevic steps down, said police arrested one of their deputy leaders, Slobodan Orlic, and 10 other opposition officials.

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