Bosnian Serbs are celebrating a controversial holiday in defiance of the country's other ethnic groups, its constitutional court and the international community.

The Jan. 9 holiday commemorates the date in 1992 when Bosnian Serbs declared the creation of their own state in Bosnia, igniting the country's devastating four-year war.

Bosnian Serb police officers, firefighters and folklore groups paraded through the streets of Banja Luka, the de-facto capital of the Serb-run part of the country.

Although Serb leaders insisted that Monday's celebrations Banjawould be a secular holiday, they participated in religious ceremonies in the city's main church. That was broadcast live on the local television, which also included interviews with Bosnian Serb war-time military and political leaders who had been sentenced for crimes against humanity by a U.N war crimes court.