Protesters in Montenegro took on the streets again Thursday, a day after police arrested dozens of demonstrators demanding the release of priests detained after leading a religious procession in disregard to the lockdown regulations.
Protesters had clashed with police at rallies Wednesday over the detainment of eight Serbian Orthodox Church priests who are facing charges of violating health regulations.
Authorities said 26 police officers were injured during the clashes in the towns of Niksic and Pljevlja. One policeman has been hospitalized.
Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic condemned the clashes in a televised statement on Thursday.
"Everything we have achieved in the past three months of devoted work and mutual renunciation has been brought into question,” Markovic said. “We are afraid that in 10 days we could find ourselves in the same situation we were in two months ago with the great danger and consequences to the heath and lives for you all. There is no reasonable explanation or justification for such behavior."
The priests had led a procession Tuesday attended by a few thousand people without wearing surgical masks or respecting distancing rules.
In Serbia, meanwhile, a few hundred protesters gathered in the capital, Belgrade, to demand the release of the eight priests.
The ban of large gatherings in Montenegro is still in force as one of the measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.