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Bosnian police clash with war veterans protesting for increased benefits

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SARAJEVO (Reuters) – Bosnian police used pepper spray on Wednesday to disperse hundreds of war veterans protesting in Sarajevo to demand a law be adopted granting them more benefits.

Special police forces, carrying helmets and shields, confronted the veterans of the 1990s Bosnian war who blocked the city centre during a protest walk.

Some protesters said they were hit by rubber bullets and others beaten with batons.

Police said four officers were injured and two protesters detained before the crowd dispersed. Local media reported that dozens of veterans were sickened by the spray and given medical assistance.

The ex-soldiers in Bosnia’s autonomous Bosniak-Croat Federation have repeatedly protested after the regional parliament failed to finalise adoption of a law granting them wider benefits, including higher pay-outs and free medical treatment.

The law was passed in July as a pre-election sweetener that defied warnings from the International Monetary Fund that it may jeopardise long-term fiscal stability.

The former fighters fear the law will not be adopted before Oct. 7, when Bosnia holds parliamentary and presidential elections.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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