BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- Police used tear gas and water cannons Tuesday to break up demonstrations by ethnic Serbs protesting alleged persecution by Moslems in the central republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Two police officers and two protesters were lightly wounded in the clashes and 22 people were arrested, many of whom were summarily sentenced by a local magistrate to jail terms ranging from 10 to 30 days, officials said.
It was the latest in a series of outbreaks of ethnic unrest involving Serbs, who also are at odds with ethnic Albanians and Croats in two other republics. Yuugoslav's largest ethnic group, Serbs make up nearly percent of the federation's ethnically mixed population of 23 million.
About 3,000 Serbs began an illegal protest at a bus station early Tuesday in the Bosnian town of Foca, 155 miles southwest of Belgrade, to show support for a 3-month-old strike by about 400 Serbian workers at a state-owned transport company.
The strike, called to press demands for the removal of a Moslem manager, has exacerbated long-simmering tensions between Serbian Christians and Moslems, who are the majority in the province. Local Serbs have accused Moslems of persecuting and discriminating against them.
When the town fathers failed to resolve the dispute, the Bosnia- Herzegovina government suspended the local administration and appointed a team of officials to run the town.
Bosnian police in riot gear warned the demonstrators to disperse, but instead the Serbs threw stones at them. Police finally broke up the rally using tear gas, water cannons and truncheons.
Police continued to patrol the town of 45,000 by car and on foot Tuesday afternoon.
Tuesday's violence was the second such incident in three days. Sunday, Serbian police used force to prevent clashes between Serbs and Moslems in the Serbian town of Novi Pazar, about 100 miles east of Foca. At least five Moslems were arrested.
Moslems in Novi Pazar have said they will demand autonomy from the Serbian republic if Serbs win their demand for self-rule in Croatia, Yugoslavia's second-largest republic.
Yugoslavia's worst ethnic conflict has pitted the communist leadership in Serbia against ethnic Albanians in the province of Kosovo. More than 30 ethnic Albanians, most of them Moslems, have been killed in clashes with Serbian police since the beginning of the year.
The Serbian leadership in Belgrade also has supported about 600,000 Serbs in Croatia in their campaign for autonomy from the Croatian government of Franjo Tudjman.