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Eight killed in drive-by shooting in Serbia in second mass shooting in two days

At least eight people were killed and 13 wounded when a gunman opened fire in a town near Belgrade late Thursday night. Second massacre in Serbia in two daysState television reported.

The attacker used an automatic weapon to open fire at random near the town of Mladenovac, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of the capital, RTS reported early Friday. Police were looking for the 21-year-old suspect, who fled after the attack, the report said.

Serbian Interior Minister Bratislava Gasic called the shooting a “terrorist act,” according to reports.

Special police and helicopter units as well as ambulances have also been dispatched to the region, it added. No other details were immediately available, and police did not issue a statement.


A roadblock in the village of Dubona near the town of Mladenovac, about 37 miles south of the Serbian capital Belgrade, on May 5, 2023, after a drive-by shooting in Mladenovac left at least eight dead and 13 injured.

Andrej Isakovic/AFP via Getty Images

In Belgrade on Wednesday, a 13-year-old boy used his father’s gun to kill eight of his classmates and a school guard in a school shooting rampage. This bloodshed sent an untapped shock to such genocide among the Balkan nations.

Dozens of Serbian students, many dressed in black and carrying flowers, paid silent tribute Thursday to their peers killed a day earlier.

Students from all over the city fill the streets surrounding the school in central Belgrade. Earlier, thousands of people lined up to leave flowers, candles and toys in memory of the eight children and a school guard who were killed on Wednesday morning.

People cried and hugged outside the school, standing in front of piles of flowers, small teddy bears and soccer balls. A gray and pink toy elephant was placed on the school fence with a message of condolence, and a girl’s ballet shoes hung from the fence.

Serbia school shooting

People gather to lay flowers at a makeshift shrine in memory of those killed in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 4, 2023. A 13-year-old opened fire at his school in the Serbian capital on Wednesday, killing eight fellow students and a guard before calling police and being arrested. Six children and a teacher were also hospitalized.

Marko Drobanjakovic / AP

Balkan nations are struggling to come to terms with what has happened. Although weapons remain from the wars of the 1990s, mass shootings are still extremely rare – and this is the first school shooting in Serbia’s modern history.

The tragedy has also sparked debate about the general state of the nation after decades of crisis and conflict that have resulted in deep political divisions as well as persistent insecurity and instability.

Authorities moved to increase gun control Thursday, as police urged citizens to lock up their guns and keep them safe away from children.

Police said the teenager used his father’s gun to carry out the attack. He planned it for a month, drawing sketches of classrooms and making lists of the children he planned to kill, police said Wednesday.

The boy, who visited the shooting range with his father and apparently had the code to his father’s safe, took two guns from the safe where they were kept together with bullets, police said Wednesday.

“The Ministry of Home Affairs is appealing to all gun owners to store their guns carefully, in safes or locked in closets so that they are out of the reach of others, especially children,” police said in a statement announcing tighter controls on gun owners. in the future

Seven people – six children and a teacher – were hospitalized after a shooting at a primary school in Vladislav Rybnica on Wednesday morning. A girl is in life-threatening condition with a gunshot wound to the head, and a boy is in critical condition with a spinal cord injury, doctors said Thursday morning.

To help people cope with the tragedy, authorities have announced that they are setting up a helpline. Hundreds of people responded to the call to donate blood for the injured. Three days of mourning will begin on Friday morning.

Serbian teachers’ unions have announced demonstrations and strikes to demand change and warn of a crisis in the school system. Some officials shied away from responsibility, blaming Western influence rather than the deep social crisis in the country.

The gunman, identified by police as Kosta Kekmanovic, gave no motive for his actions.

Entering his school, Kekmanovic first kills the guard and three students in the hallway. He then went into the history classroom where he shot the teacher before opening fire on the students.

Kecmanovich then unloaded the gun in the school yard and called the police himself, even though they had already received a warning from a school official. When he called, Kekmanevich told duty officers he was a “psychopath who needed to calm down,” police said.

Among the dead were seven girls, one boy and a school security guard. According to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, one of them is a French citizen.

Authorities say Kekmanovic is too young to be charged and tried. He is placed in a mental institution while his father is detained on suspicion of endangering public safety because his son holds a gun.

“I think we’re all guilty. I think we all have some responsibility, that we allowed some things (shouldn’t happen),” Belgrade resident Zoran Sefik said during a vigil near the school Wednesday evening.

Another Belgrade resident, Jovan Lajovic, said he wasn’t surprised: “It was a matter of days when something like this could happen, given what’s happening in the world and here,” he said.

Gun culture is widespread in Serbia and the Balkans: the region has the highest number of guns per capita in Europe. Guns are often fired in the air in celebration, and the warrior religion is part of the national identity. Still, the last mass shooting was in 2013 when a war veteran killed 13 people in a central Serbian village.

Experts have repeatedly warned of the dangers posed by the number of weapons in a highly divided country like Serbia, where convicted war criminals are glorified and violence against minority groups often goes unpunished. They also noted that instability stemming from the conflicts of the 1990s as well as ongoing economic difficulties could trigger such explosions.

“We have had too much violence for too many days,” psychologist Jarko Trebjesanin told N1 television. “Children copy models. We need to eliminate negative models … and create a different value system.”

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