October 7, 2007 / 4:43 PM / 11 years ago

Serbian police arrest members of neo Nazi group

BELGRADE, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Serbian police arrested on Sunday around 30 members of a small neo Nazi organisation, whose plan to hold a rally was thwarted last month after Serbian parties and the World Jewish congress demanded a ban.

Police raided an army-owned recreation centre in downtown Novi Sad and arrested three dozen members of the group Nacionalni Stroj (National Front) after they insulted and threw bottles and stones at an anti-fascist rally that was passing by.

National Front leader Goran Davidovic was among those detained and was seen smiling while being put into a police car, a Reuters Television cameraman reported from the northern city.

The National Front had scheduled its rally for Oct. 7 to coincide with the birthday of Heinrich Himmler, the SS commander who orchestrated the murder of hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews and Roma (Gypsies) on the territory of then Kingdom of Yugoslavia in World War Two. Police banned it "because it endangered public morals and public safety".

A second far-right group Obraz (Face) had announced that it would organise a march in support of the National Front. It is not clear whether some of their members were arrested on Sunday.

Nazis killed hundreds in 1942 in Novi Sad and threw their bodies in Danube river.

The National Front made its presence felt for the first time in 2005 when some 20 members stormed an anti-fascist meeting in Novi Sad University, assaulting some participants and raising their arms in the Nazi salute.

Neo Nazi groups are on the rise in Serbia, but have few members and are mostly marginalised.

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