Police fired tear gas, while protesters threw rocks in a protest in Montenegro.
The protest erupted during Sunday’s inauguration of the Serbian Orthodox Church cleric as the religious leader of the nation.
Joanikije II’s inauguration in the Cetinje town has stimulated divisions within Montenegro over relations with Serbia.
Montenegro withdrew from its union with Serbia in 2006, however, the church remained under Serbia’s control.
Police used gas to disperse the crowds, who threw rocks and firecracker bottles on church members following their arrival in the helicopter.
Additionally, other protesters burned tires and blocked roads.
Police and civilian injuries
Dragan Gorovic, deputy police director in Montenegro, said in an interview that protesters injured 20 officers.
Moreover, nearly 30 civilians sought medical help in the Cetinje state clinic.
PM Zdravko Krivokapic considered the protests and attacks on police officers an act of terrorism.
He blamed President Milo Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists, which ruled for three decades before losing elections last year, for organizing protests.
He put the blame on Milo Djukanovic and his Democratic Party of Socialists, which were in power for 30 years.
However, Djukanovic, who rejects the inauguration ceremony, accused the police of using excessive force.
He also accused the current government of “ruthlessly serving imperial interests of the Serbian Orthodox Church,” which he considered a hard hit to Serbian nationalism.
“Today we witnessed the embarrassment of both the Church and the government,” Djukanovic said on television.
The embassies of Germany, Italy, France, Britain, the US and the EU condemned the violence around the ceremony.
The US government called on all sides “to urgently de-escalate the situation.”
“All sides must respect freedom of expression, religion and peaceful assembly,” the US Embassy said.
Joanikije II is the Metropolitan of Montenegro and Archbishop of Cetinje.
Authorities arrested Veselin Veljovic, who is Djukanovic’s adviser, for taking part in the attacks against police on Sunday.