Serbian Shooting Claims 8 Lives, Day After School Massacre Killed 9

DUBONA, Serbia — The police in Serbia arrested a suspect early Friday after an overnight hunt for a gunman who killed eight people in a rural area near Belgrade, as the Balkan nation struggled to come to terms with its second mass shooting in two days.

In Serbia, which has one of the world’s highest rates of gun ownership but where gun violence is rare, the attack late Thursday came a day after a seventh grader armed with pistols and Molotov cocktails killed eight students and a security guard at his school in Belgrade, Serbia’s capital.

President Aleksandar Vucic of Serbia on Friday said he planned to make sweeping changes to the country’s gun regulations that went beyond measures he outlined a day earlier, promising an “almost complete disarmament” of Serbia.

“We’ve been walking around like zombies the last 24 hours, looking for a reason something like this could happen,” Mr. Vucic said in a news conference, explaining his decision to take a stronger stance on gun control. An official three-day mourning period for the earlier shooting began on Friday, and Mr. Vucic announced an additional three days of mourning for the second shooting.

He opened fire ‌near a schoolyard in the village of Dubona, killing a police officer, the police officer’s sister and ‌one other person, according to several local residents. The gunman also fatally shot five people on the outskirts of the neighboring village of Malo Orasje, according to relatives of the victims. Mr. Vucic confirmed that the gunman was responsible for attacks in both areas.

Mr. Vucic called Thursday’s shooting a “terrorist act” and said he would introduce stricter gun control measures, harsher fines for illegal arms and a stronger police presence in schools. Serbia would increase its police force by 1,200 officers over the next six months, with one officer in every school while classes are in session, he said.

The new gun control measures would include a full audit, including psychological and drug tests, of all legal gun owners. The Interior Ministry would give gun owners a one-month grace period to surrender illegal arms. Of the roughly 400,000 legal, registered guns in Serbia, excluding hunting weapons, Mr. Vucic said he expected just 10 percent, at most, to remain in the hands of citizens once his planned changes came into effect. He did not specify how he would do that.

Jail time for possessing unregistered firearms would increase by up to 15 years, depending on the circumstances, Mr. Vucic said.

The villages where the attacks took place are sparsely populated suburbs on the southern edge of Belgrade, near the slopes of Mount Kosmaj. After initially searching in darkness with thermal imaging cameras, the police began a physical search as dawn broke, RTS reported.

Police officers and army officials on Friday morning surrounded the house of the gunman’s family in the tiny village of Donja Dubona, near the village of Dubona.

Stefan Markovic, 29, a resident of Donja Dubona who said he had known the gunman since they were children, said the gunman’s father had kept numerous weapons in the house. He described a family wedding he attended a few years ago, in which the suspect’s father and other family members shot rifles into the air to celebrate.

Mr. Vucic’s pledge to tighten gun laws came a day after the Serbian government approved a series of measures, including setting a two-year moratorium on new licenses and enhanced surveillance of shooting ranges.

From 2015 through 2019, 125 people were killed in firearm-related homicides in Serbia, a country of about seven million people, according to the report.

Shared From Source link Breaking News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.