Deadly Mass Shooting in Serbia, Day After School Massacre That Killed 9

Eight people were killed and at least 10 others injured late Thursday near Belgrade, Serbia, in the nation’s second mass shooting in as many days, according to Serbian media.

Hundreds of police officers were looking for a 21-year-old male suspect, according to RTS, Serbia’s public broadcaster. They have deployed helicopters and surrounded the area where they believed he was hiding, the report said.

The gunman, who was in a moving vehicle, used an automatic weapon and fled the scene, according to RTS, which said the attack took place around Mladenovac, a municipality in the southern part of the capital, Belgrade.

The shooting took place at 11 p.m. local time, Serbia’s Interior Ministry told CNN. It is not clear how long it lasted.

The gunman first opened fire in a schoolyard in the village of Dubona, killing a police officer and his sister, in addition to others there, RTS reported. He then moved on to the neighboring villages of Mali Orasje and Sepsin, the broadcaster said.

Serbia’s interior minister, Bratislav Gasic, called the shooting “a terrorist act,” RTS reported.

The villages where the attack took place are sparsely populated suburban areas on the southeastern edge of the city 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, going door to door, RTS reported.

The Serbian authorities offered no details about a motive for the shooting, according to N1, a Serbian cable news channel.

A day before Thursday’s attack, a seventh-grade student armed with pistols and Molotov cocktails fatally ​shot eight children and a security guard at his school in Belgrade, plunging the capital into grief and stunning the nation.

After the shooting on Wednesday, the Serbian government began considering ways to tighten its strict gun regulations. President Aleksandar Vucic proposed a two-year moratorium on new gun licenses other than for hunting and legislation that would bar minors and certain other people from owning firearms, the broadcaster said.

The country’s Interior Ministry urged gun owners to ensure their weapons are locked away, unloaded and separated from ammunition. The ministry said it would go through the registry of gun owners to check that arms were properly stored and seize weapons or take other actions against owners if they were not.

Serbia has historically had a high level of gun ownership compared with other countries — because of its recent history of armed conflict and a cultural tradition of owning guns — but has not had high levels of gun violence, according to an October 2022 report by the Flemish Peace Institute, an independent research group.

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. According to the 2018 Small Arms Survey, Serbia ranks third in the world, after the United States and Yemen in civilian firearm ownership, with an estimated 39 firearms per 100 people.

Serbia has implemented stringent regulations on firearms since guns became widely available as a result of the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Gun owners must have no history of imprisonment and have no criminal record in the past four years, be trained in handling firearms, undergo routine medical examinations and have a safe storage space.

Still, Serbia has had several mass shootings in recent years. In 2016, a man killed five people at a cafe in the country’s north. In 2015, a man killed four people after his son’s wedding, including his wife, his new daughter-in-law and her parents. In 2013, a 60-year-old veteran of the Balkan wars killed 13 people, including relatives and neighbors, in the village of Velika Ivanca near Belgrade. And in July 2007, a 38-year-old man killed nine people who had been passing by on a street in the village of Jabukovac in eastern Serbia.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.

Victoria Kim contributed reporting, and Matej Leskovsek contributed translation and reporting.

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