Violent clashes erupted as 55 illegally-built houses were demolished in a Roma suburb of the Bulgarian city of Stara Zagora.

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Bulgarian Roma people sit in front of their house after it was demolished in a suburb of Stara Zagora, Bulgaria. Municipal authorities started demolishing 55 illegally built shacks and houses in the suburbReuters

Local Roma people tried to prevent the demolition, forming human barricades and gathering on the roofs of the houses; some even threatened to commit suicide. Three police officers were injured as residents hurled tiles at officers.

Nearly 1,000 employees of the Gendarmerie held protesters back as workers used diggers to demolish the houses.

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Bulgarian police officers surround a house with Roma people standing on rooftops to protest against its demolitionAFP
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A bulldozer demolishes an illegally built house in a Roma suburb in the town of Stara ZagoraAFP
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Bulgarian Roma react as an excavator demolishes a house in a suburb of the city of Stara ZagoraReuters
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A Bulgarian Roma man is detained after protesting against the demolition of his houseReuters
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Police stand guard during the demolition of illegal houses in a Roma suburbAFP

Photos show residents sitting among the ruins or trying to salvage valuables from the remains of their homes.

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A Roma woman salvages materials from the ruins of her houseAFP
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A Roma woman sits with her possessions after her home was demolishedReuters
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Two Roma women comfort each other as their homes are destroyedAFP

According to a 2011 census, there are 325,343 Roma people in Bulgaria, or nearly five percent of the population, making them the third largest ethnic group.