Saturday, August 8, 2009



Burial for victim of attacks on Hungary's Gypsies

The Associated Press
Friday, August 7, 2009 1:15 PM

KISLETA, Hungary -- Hundreds of people gathered Friday to pay their respects at the funeral of a 45-year-old woman, the sixth fatal victim in a series of attacks against Gypsies in Hungary.

Police say the attacks are linked, may have been committed by the same small group, and that the weapons used in Monday's shooting of Maria Balogh and her 13-year-old daughter in their home in Kisleta, a small village in eastern Hungary, had been used in at least two of the previous attacks.

Balogh's daughter survived the shooting and is recuperating in a hospital.

Police have 100 officers working on the crimes, the first of which took place in July 2008, and this week doubled the reward for information that could solve all the attacks to 100 million forints (euro370,000, $525,000).

The attacks usually have been carried out at homes at the edge of small villages near highways providing a quick escape route.

Balogh and her daughter were attacked Monday before dawn but were discovered only hours later when Balogh's sister came to pick them up for work at a tobacco farm.

Gypsies, or Roma as they sometimes prefer to be called, are among the poorest and least-educated Hungarians. They make up about 5 percent of Hungary's population of 10 million and many lost their jobs as the communist system crumbled and the large state-run factories which guaranteed employment were closed or privatized.

Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai expressed his condolences to the family and said that the murderers had attacked the whole Hungarian nation.

"To drive back extremism, to hold society together and to improve on the condition of Gypsies is not simply a government task," Bajnai said. "It is also a national responsibility."

© 2009 The Associated Press

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