HomeWorldEuropeSerbia Mass Shootings: 17 Dead, 21 Injured In Two Days

Serbia Mass Shootings: 17 Dead, 21 Injured In Two Days

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Heartbreaking cries echoed as funerals were held in Serbia on Saturday for some of the victims of two mass shootings that occurred just a day apart this week, killing 17 people and injuring 21, many of them children.

The shootings on Wednesday in a Belgrade school and on Thursday in a rural area south of the capital city have left the country in shock and disbelief.

Though Serbia is rife with weapons and no stranger to crisis situations in the aftermath of the 1990s wars, a school shooting like the one on Wednesday has never occurred. The most recent previous mass shooting occurred in 2013, when a war veteran murdered 13 people.

On Wednesday, the shooter was a 13-year-old boy who opened fire on his classmates, killing seven girls, a boy, and a school guard. A day later, a 20-year-old man opened fire at random in two villages in central Serbia, killing eight people.

A girl lays flowers for the victims in front of the Vladimir Ribnikar school, after a 13-year-old boy killed eight fellow students and a guard. (Image by: AP)

Classmates and hundreds of others wept as one of the girls killed in the school shooting was laid to rest in Belgrade in a small white coffin covered in flowers. The girl’s mother was overcome with grief and could barely stand. During the service, one girl collapsed amid screams and sobbing.

While the country struggled to comprehend what had occurred, authorities promised a gun crackdown and increased school security. In an outpouring of sorrow and solidarity, thousands of people lit candles and left flowers near the shooting site in Belgrade.

“My soul aches for them,” said Vesna Kostic, who arrived outside the school on Saturday to pay her respects. “I keep looking for a cause, a reason why this has happened to him ([he shooter], why this has happened to us.”

Four of the eight children killed in the school shooting, as well as the school guard Vladislav Ribnikar, were buried in Belgrade cemeteries on Saturday, the second day of a three-day mourning period for the victims, according to Serbian media.

Relatives of a victim cry during a funeral for five people killed during the second mass shooting in two days, in the village of Malo Orasje, 50km south of Belgrade. (Image by: AP / Darko Vojinovic)

A mass funeral was held 50 kilometres to the south in the small village of Malo Orasje for five young men killed in the shooting rampage on Thursday evening.

Sobbing mourners lined up to light candles while waiting for the coffins to be placed on five benches outside the village church for a service.

“Five graves!” “He [the killer] killed five families,” one villager told N1 television. “How could this happen?”

According to Serbian police, the suspected shooter stopped a taxi after his rampage and forced the driver to take him to a village further south, where he was arrested on Friday. Officers later stated that they discovered weapons and ammunition in two houses he was using there.

Ema Kobiljski’s parents attend her funeral after a 13-year-old boy used his father’s guns to kill eight other students and a guard. (Image by: AP)

During questioning on Saturday in the central town of Smederevo, the suspect, identified as Uros Blazic, told prosecutors that he shot people he didn’t know because he wanted to instill fear among residents, according to RTS state television. He is charged with first-degree murder and unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.

The reason for both shootings was unknown. The 13-year-old boy has been placed in a mental clinic because he is too young to face criminal charges. His father was arrested for allegedly teaching his son how to use firearms and not properly securing his weapons.

Authorities said the suspected village shooter wore a pro-Nazi T-shirt and complained of “disagreement,” though it was unclear what he meant. Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia’s populist president, promised the “monsters” would “never see the light of day again.”

In the village of Dubona, forensic police work on a car after a shooter killed several people and injured others. (Image by: AP)

Those injured in the two shootings have been hospitalised, and the majority have undergone difficult surgical procedures. A girl and a boy from the school shooting are still critically injured, while the village victims are stable but under constant observation.

Six children and a teacher were injured in the school shooting, and 14 people were injured in the villages of Malo Orasje and Dubona. A young off-duty police officer and his sister were among those killed in Dubona.

Authorities released a photo of the suspected shooter after his arrest, which showed him in a police car wearing a blue T-shirt with the slogan “Generation 88.” Because H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, the double eights are frequently used as shorthand for “Heil Hitler.”

Aside from the gun ban, officials have announced increased monitoring of social media and the media. By Saturday, several people had been questioned for posting threats or videos supporting the killers on social media, according to the Tanjug news agency.

Serbia’s education ministry outlined a crisis plan for Vladislav Ribnikar school students to gradually return to classes next Wednesday. A team of experts, supported by the UN children’s agency Unicef, will offer assistance and oversee the process, according to a ministry statement.

Experts have repeatedly warned that decades of crises and economic hardship, combined with corrupt institutions and a high level of intolerance in public speech and politics, could push some people to the brink of a mental breakdown.

The populist-led Balkan country has refused to fully acknowledge its role in the 1990s wars, war criminals are widely regarded as heroes, and minority groups are routinely harassed and sometimes physically abused.

“The question now is whether our society is ready to reject the model of violence,” warned psychologist Zarko Korac. “When you glorify a war criminal, you are glorifying his crimes and sending the message that it is legitimate.”

Info source – Nzherald

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