Two American members of the US Air Force were attacked by a group of men at the Opera night club in Zadar on Saturday night.
According to local media in Zadar, the motive for the attack was “that the men had been acting gay”, a conjecture witnesses apparently based on the fact that they were seen “twerking”. The victims are also black and it is unclear if the attack was also racially motivated. Police are investigating, but both Americans have left the country.
Zadar police confirmed that one of the man was treated at Zadar hospital for minor injuries, but decline further comment pending the outcome of the investigation. However, they are treating the incident as a disruption of public order, a misdemeanor offense, rather than a hate crime.
“The two men, ages 24 and 25, were taken to Zadar Hospital, where one was treated for his injuries. The investigation was expected to continue this morning, but both individuals have left Croatia and revealed details of the incident to the media after the fact,” said Ivana Grbin, spokesperson for Zadar County Police.
She added that the men were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the attack and that officers working on the case are in contact with the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb.
One of the victims posted on social media, “Last night, we experienced one of the worst moments in our lives. A group of eight to ten Croatian men attacked us at the club. I have never felt so helpless in my life.”
The U.S. Embassy issued a statement on Monday saying it condemns the incident.
“The U.S. Embassy Zagreb has seen today’s news reports and condemns the recent violent attacks on two American tourists in Zadar. The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State,” the Embassy said in a tweet, adding that they are unable to comment further on the case.
Pijerino Bebić, the co-owner of the club where the incident took place, said that the Americans had been in the club the night before and that there had been no issues. When the fight broke out, security intervened and the police were called, he said.
“It is in no way a reflection of the club Opera, Zadar or Croatia, as a tourism destination,” he said condemning the attack.