Suspect arrested after Serbia’s second mass shooting in two days

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Serbian police have arrested a man suspected of killing at least eight people and wounding 13 others in the Balkan country’s second mass killing in two days, state television said.

The report said that the man, identified by initials UB, was arrested near the central Serbian town of Kragujevac, about 60 miles south of Belgrade.

There was no immediate confirmation from the police.

Police car
A police vehicle blocks the entrance to the village of Dubona (AP)

The attacker shot randomly at people in three villages near Mladenovac, some 30 miles south of the capital, broadcaster RTS said.

Serbian interior minister Bratislav Gasic called Thursday’s drive-by shootings “a terrorist act”.

The shooting came a day after a 13-year-old boy used his father’s guns to kill eight fellow students
and a guard at a school in Belgrade.

Belgrade school
Police officers guard the Vladimir Ribnikar school in Belgrade, scene of the earlier mass shooting (AP)

Though Serbia is awash with weapons left over from the wars of the 1990s, Wednesday’s school shooting was the first in the country’s modern history.

The last mass shooting before this week was in 2013, when a war veteran killed 13 people in a central Serbian village.

Serbia spent much of Thursday reeling from its first mass shooting in 10 years. Students, many wearing black and carrying flowers, filled the streets around the school in central Belgrade as they paid silent tribute to the dead.

Serbian teachers’ unions announced protests and strikes to warn about a crisis in the school system and to demand changes.

Serbia School Shooting
The gunman shooter killed at least eight people and wounded 13 others in a drive-by attack near a town close to Belgrade (AP)

The government ordered a two-year moratorium on short-barrel guns, tougher control of people with guns and shooting grounds, and tougher sentences for people who enable minors to get hold of guns.

A registered gun owner in Serbia must be over 18, healthy, and have no criminal record. Weapons must be kept locked and separately from ammunition.

The shooting on Wednesday morning in Vladislav Ribnikar primary school also left seven people in hospital – six children and a teacher. One girl who was shot in the head remains in life-threatening condition, and a boy is in serious condition with spinal injuries, doctors said on Thursday morning.

Serbia School Shooting
A 21-year-old suspect has been arrested (AP)

Gun culture is widespread in Serbia and elsewhere in the Balkans: The region has among the highest numbers of guns per capita in Europe. Guns are often fired into the air at celebrations and the cult of the warrior is part of national identities.

Experts have repeatedly warned of the danger posed by the number of weapons in the highly divided country, where convicted war criminals are glorified and violence against minority groups often goes unpunished.

They also note that decades of instability stemming from the conflicts of the 1990s, as well as ongoing economic hardship, could trigger such outbursts.

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