Bosnian Serbs protest at evictions in northern town

SARAJEVO, Jul 21, 2000 -- (Reuters) Bosnian Serbs tore down the Bosnian flag from the government building in the northern town of Brcko on Thursday in protest against evictions from their temporary homes, a witness reported.

"About 3,000 people gathered and the flag was taken down. There were no violent incidents," the witness said.

The Serb refugees said they would continue with daily protests until officials from Brcko's multi-ethnic district transitional government addressed their requests for a better housing policy.

The protesters also called for the dismissal of the multi-ethnic housing commission and the creation of a new commission supervised by the local assembly.

Local officials were not immediately available for comment and neither were the international officials who are overseeing efforts to secure Bosnia's five-year-old peace.

The Serbs said that were protesting over the policy of allocating property to Moslem and Croat refugees returning to homes in the northern town they were expelled from during the 1992-95 war.

Separately on Thursday, an association helping Bosnian Moslem and Croat refugees return to Brcko accused international peace officials in the town of obstructing them and said the protests by Serb refugees were an added hindrance.

The status of Brcko, a strategic river port, was left undecided after the signing of the Dayton peace agreement that ended the Bosnian conflict in 1995. In March an international arbiter declared it a neutral multi-ethnic district.

The Bosnian flag, blue with a yellow triangle, was imposed on the country by the international community after its Moslem, Serb and Croat communities failed to agree on a national symbol.

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