BELGRADE, Serbia - Protesters throwing stones and bottles clashed with baton-wielding riot police Sunday in Belgrade after several thousand Serbian nationalist supporters of jailed war-crimes suspect Ratko Mladic rallied outside the parliament building to demand his release.
By the time the crowds broke up by late evening, about 100 people were arrested and 16 minor injuries were reported. That amounted to a victory for the pro-Western government, which arrested Mladic on Thursday, risking the wrath of the nationalist old guard in a country with a history of much larger and more virulent protests.
Rioters overturned garbage containers, broke traffic lights, and set off firecrackers as they rampaged through downtown. Cordons of riot police blocked their advances, and skirmishes broke out the center of the capital.
Doctors said six police officers were among 16 people brought to a hospital with minor injuries.
The clashes began after a rally that drew at least 7,000 demonstrators, many singing nationalist songs and carrying banners honoring Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb military commander. Some chanted right-wing slogans, and a few gave Nazi salutes.
The demonstrators, who consider Mladic a hero, said Serbia should not hand him over to the U.N. war-crimes court in the Hague, Netherlands. "Cooperation with the Hague tribunal represents treason," Radical Party official Lidija Vukicevic told the crowd.
Demonstrators demanded the ouster of Serbian President Boris Tadic, who ordered Mladic's arrest.
Nationalists are furious that the Serbian government apprehended Mladic, 69, who was on the run nearly 16 years.
The U.N. tribunal charged Mladic with genocide in 1995, accusing him of orchestrating the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica and other war crimes of Bosnia's 1992-95 war. Mladic's arrest is considered critical to Serbia's efforts to join the European Union, and to reconciliation in the region after a series of ethnic wars of the 1990s.