“This is an opportunity for us to once again remember and thank all Croatian defenders, soldiers, police officers and all those who gave their lives for freedom,” Plenković said.
In a separate message on this occasion, Defence Minister Mario Banožić said: “We are proud of Josip Jović and all defenders, Croatian police officers and Croatian soldiers, who showed how to fight for the freedom of Croatia and all its people, regardless of the gravity of challenges and despite sacrifices.”
Croatia on Thursday commemorated the 31th anniversary of Operation Plitvice and the death of Josip Jović, the first Croatian police officer to be killed by Serb insurgents at the start of the 1991-1995 Homeland War.
The operation was mounted after rebel Serbs set up a police station in Plitvice and the Croatian state leadership decided to restore constitutional order there.
Jović, 22, was killed and nine other police officers were wounded in that police operation after the Serb rebels occupied Plitvice Lakes National Park and blocked the D1 state road that connects the country’s north and south. Jović was a member of the Lučko Anti-Terrorist Unit.
The operation was launched on the morning of 31 March 1991, Easter Sunday, and is also known as Bloody Easter.
According to police reports after the operation, 29 Serb extremists were arrested and 18 were charged with armed rebellion, including Goran Hadžić, a member of the main committee of the Serb Democratic Party, and Borivoje Savić, secretary of the executive committee of the party’s Vukovar branch. Although the Croatian police regained control of the local police station, they had to withdraw later and the area remained under rebel control until August 1995 when Operation Storm crushed the Serb insurgency.
Jović has been posthumously promoted to the rank of major and decorated with high state medals.
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