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Romania Details Strike Damage

January 25, 1999

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ Coal miners stole huge quantities of police equipment and destroyed more than a dozen military vehicles during clashes with riot troops last week, the government said Monday.

At least 200 people were injured in those clashes, and miners destroyed 11 trucks, four buses and several cars belonging to the Interior Ministry.

In addition, about $180,000 worth of equipment was stolen or damaged during the five days of clashes, Col. Gheorghe Boblea said, quoting from an Interior Ministry report.

An Interior Ministry inventory also showed that stolen items included 134 tear gas and smoke bomb launchers, dozens of flare launchers and gas pistols, 325 gas masks, 340 shields, 320 helmets and batons, dozens of handcuffs and 10 walkie-talkies.

Some 10,000 coal miners from the western Jiu Valley went on a violent protest last week, marching toward the capital of Bucharest to demand higher wages and no layoffs.

Prime Minister Radu Vasile reached an agreement with the miners Friday promising wage increases if miners reduce losses at the mines by 20 percent this year. He also promised to keep open two mines that had been scheduled to close.

The deputy interior minister, Gen. Teodor Zaharia, resigned Monday under continued criticism of the troops’ performance last week, when miners broke through police lines. His former boss, Interior Minister Gavril Dejeu, was fired earlier.

Some 20 missing police troops who fled the clashes were found hiding in forests near Costesti, 120 miles northwest of Bucharest, where the main clash took place Thursday. Others had taken refuge in villagers’ houses.

One soldier had both his legs broken in several places after he was beaten by miners, the Interior Ministry said.

Update hourly