By BosNewsLife News Center in Budapest 

The Serbian Orthodox Church plays an important role in the lives of many Serbs.

BELGRADE/DERVENTA/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)– A tense calm returned Sunday, June 3, to the Serb-controlled area of Bosnia-Herzegovina after a priest was shot in the head and his wife abused by armed robbers amid concerns the attack could raise religious tensions in the volatile region, police and activists said.

Police said Serbian Orthodox Priest Sava Todorovic was injured but survived after armed “masked robbers” entering his residence, tied, physically abused and shot him early Thursday, May 31. 

His wife, Jelica Todorovic, “was also bound and physically abused” during the attack in Kalenderovci village, near the town of Derventa in Bosnia’s Republic Srpska.     

Neighbors reportedly noted the robbers who apparently jumped out of a window and ran away. “When fleeing the perpetrators fired several shots from a firearm, but no one was hurt,” police said in a statement distributed by Centar 9, or ‘Center 9’ in English, a major Balkan religious rights watchdog.

The injured couple was rushed to a nearby hospital, activists and police said.


Todorovic was later brought to the main Clinical Medical Centre Banja Luka where he is treated for his head injury but listed in stable condition, said Centar 9’s General Secretary Drasko Djenovic.

“His injuries are not life threatening but it is possible that he will have surgery of the head,” he told BosNewsLife.

It was not immediately clear what motivated the robbers. However, “due to the complicated religious and ethical population situation in Bosnia, it is not sure whether this case was just a robbery or whether it has a religious intolerance background as well,” added Djenovic.   

Over 100,000 people died during the bloody Balkan ethnic wars of the 1990s, most of them in Bosnia.

The church in Kalenderovci is part of the Zvornik-Tuzla Diocesa of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the region.

(With reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).



  1. Stefan, the photo you’re using is misleading. The woman in photo is Bosnian Muslim Fata Orlovic. She is not the Serb.

    Serbs built the church in her backyard. Perhaps you should pick another photo.

  2. Dear Vladimir S.

    Thank you for writing. In the rush to get this important story out, we indeed should have taken a few more minutes to use another picture. Fata Orlovic, the Muslim woman on the first photo we published, fought against a Serb Orthodox Church in her backyard that was placed there by Serb extremists. In no way we wanted to mislead or make light of her suffering. As our story underlines, there are also non-extremist Serb Christians suffering of violence. We have therefore chosen a more neutral photo instead. Thank you very much for making this point.

    Best regards,

    Stefan J. Bos, BosNewsLife

  3. “Fata Orlovic, the Muslim woman on the first photo we published, fought against a Serb Orthodox Church in her backyard that was placed there by Serb extremists”.

    Interesting comment Stefan. Is it that Serbian Orthodox church is consequently extremist church?
    I am sure all new church erections must be approved by the church authorities. Does anybody believe there is such a sparse land available for building the church in Bosnia to encroach to the Mrs. Orlovic land? I doubt it…..

    Stefan, please can you write an article about St. Sophia, largest church in Constantinople, that was converted to the mosque…..and nowadays is museum apparently…Maybe it should be return to rightful owners? I strongly believe yes it should…….

  4. Dear Nash Todd,

    I did not say that the Serbian Orthodox Church is extremist. There may well be extremists within its ranks, as in other religious denominations. The fact that we covered the story about the priest shows we are covering the plight of all genuine Christians, whatever their background. I have no idea who approved the building, but the point was that indeed this was a picture of a Muslim woman, not a Serbian Orthodox person. We would be interested in doing a story on the St. Sophia church. If you have some more information about that, please contact the newsroom via bosnewslife @


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