Serbia hit by second mass shooting day after deadly school attack

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At least eight dead and 13 injured after attacker opened fire on people in moving car in town south of Belgrade.

At least eight people have been killed and 13 injured after a gunman in a moving car opened fire on passersby in a town south of the Serbian capital and fled.

The incident took place late Thursday near the town of Mladenovac, some 50 kilometers south of Belgrade, according to state television.

The 21-year-old attacker used an automatic weapon to shoot at people randomly, the RTS report said, saying police were still searching for the suspect who fled after the attack.

Serbian Interior Minister Bratislav Gasic called the shooting “an act of terrorism,” the report said.

Ambulances, special police and helicopter units have been sent to the area.

The Mladenovac attack comes as Serbia recovers from a shooting at a central Belgrade school in which a 13-year-old boy used his father’s guns to kill eight of his classmates and a security guard. One of the dead children was a French citizen, the French foreign ministry said.

Earlier on Thursday, dozens of students, many in black and with flowers, paid their respects to the victims. People cried and hugged outside the school, still cordoned off by police after Wednesday’s attack, as they stood in front of heaps of flowers, small teddy bears and footballs.

The Balkans are among the top regions in Europe in terms of guns per capita and Serbia is awash in guns left over from the wars of the 1990s.

People comfort each other at a memorial to those killed in a mass shooting at a Belgrade school.
The latest shooting occurred as Serbia mourned a mass shooting by a 13-year-old student at an elementary school in central Belgrade. [Armin Durgut/AP Photo]

Yet the country has strict gun laws and the last mass shooting was in 2013 when a war veteran killed 13 people in a central Serbian village.

Authorities on Thursday took steps to further tighten gun controls and police urged citizens to keep their guns under lock and key and to keep them away from children.

Police have said the gunman, whom they identified as Kosta Kecmanovic, planned the attack for a month, drew sketches of classrooms at Vladislav Ribnikar Elementary School and compiled lists of the children he intended to kill.

Seven people were also hospitalized in the shooting at Vladislav Ribnikar’s primary school: six children and a teacher. A girl shot in the head remains in life-threatening condition, while a boy is in serious condition with spinal injuries, doctors said Thursday.

Kecmanovic has not given any motive for his actions.

A three-day mourning period for the school shooting begins Friday morning.

Experts have repeatedly warned of the danger posed by the abundance of guns in a deeply divided country like Serbia, where convicted war criminals are glorified and violence against minority groups often goes unpunished.

They add that there is also a risk from decades of instability from the conflicts of the 1990s and continued economic hardship.

“We’ve had too much violence for too long,” psychologist Zarko Trebjesanin told N1 television. “Children copy models. We need to eliminate negative models… and create a different value system.”

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