On Thursday evening, a young man with a machine gun killed eight people and wounded 14 others in three villages in the Kladinovac region, sixty kilometers south of Belgrade.
On Friday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced a large-scale “disarmament” plan aimed at collecting hundreds of thousands of weapons from the residents of this Balkan country, which witnessed two massacres with firearms this week, killing 17 people, including eight children.
On Wednesday, a 13-year-old student shot dead eight of his classmates and the janitor of the school located in central Belgrade, and injured seven people, six students and their teacher, and two of them are still in critical condition after undergoing a series of surgeries.
The police immediately arrested the student who carried out the massacre.
In the aftermath of this massacre, a young man with a machine gun killed eight people and wounded 14 others in three villages in the Kladinovac region, sixty kilometers south of Belgrade. The police arrested the supposed perpetrator of this operation on Friday morning in the Kragujevac region (center), after a chase that lasted all night.
“We will carry out an almost complete disarmament process in Serbia,” Vucic said in a press conference broadcast live, hours after the second massacre that took place in three villages whose names the president did not mention, but which are about 60 kilometers from Belgrade.
He also announced a review of licenses to carry light weapons, in addition to the weapons owned by hunters, with the aim of reducing their number from about 400,000 currently to “no more than thirty or forty thousand.”
The government said in a statement that it wants to “reduce the number of light weapons that individuals and companies have by ninety percent,” noting that the Ministry of Interior “will also appeal to the owners of illegal weapons and explosive devices in order to hand them over (to the authorities) within a month without the risk of being prosecuted.” “.
In this country of 6.8 million people, people legally own more than 765,000 weapons, including about 360,000 hunting weapons, according to figures cited by the head of state.
While a license is required to own a firearm in Serbia, the Ministry of the Interior announced Thursday home inspections to check whether weapons are being kept in a safe place, according to the applicable rules. Violators’ weapons will be confiscated.
The Serbian Ministry of the Interior said in a statement on Friday morning that “after an intense pursuit, personnel from the Ministry of the Interior arrested UB, born in 2002, in the Kragujevac region” in central Serbia.
The statement added, “It is suspected that he killed (…) eight people with an automatic weapon and wounded 14 others,” referring to the transfer of all the injured to the hospital.
Serbian Interior Minister Bratislav Gasic described the shooting as a “terrorist act”.
Before the shooter was arrested, an AFP correspondent reported on Friday morning that policemen were scouring the area, accompanied by a searchlight helicopter, in search of the shooter.
For its part, the state channel said that about 600 law enforcement personnel were deployed to the area, including members of a special anti-terrorism unit. The police blocked the road leading to several villages.
Concerned relatives of several of the victims gathered outside the emergency medical center in Belgrade, where at least eight of the wounded were taken to the hospital. Health Minister Danica Grojicic made a short visit to the centre.
The student, who killed his classmates shortly after committing the massacre, was arrested in the school yard, where he was waiting for the police to arrive, and he was transferred to a psychiatric hospital.
The father of the shooter, the owner of the used gun, who is a well-known doctor, was also arrested, and the prosecution will hear him on Friday. The shooter’s mother was also arrested.
The government declared three days of national mourning, starting Friday. The number of planned celebrations and events will also be canceled or reduced.
In a message sent by the second official in the Vatican via Telegram in the Serbian language, he confirmed that Pope Francis feels “great sadness” for what happened, adding that “His Holiness is in solidarity with the pain of those who mourn the death of innocent victims.”
In a speech on Wednesday evening, the Serbian president expressed his regret over “one of the most difficult days in contemporary history” for Serbia.
Firearms have been widespread in the Balkans since the break-up of the former Yugoslavia and the wars of the 1990s.
And in 2013, a villager shot dead 13 people, including his family members and neighbors, not far from Mladenovac, the area where the shooting took place on Thursday night.
Throughout the day on Thursday, thousands of Belgrade residents laid flowers, woods and letters and lit candles outside the Vladislav Ribnekar School in the city center where the massacre took place.
Candlelight gatherings were also held in Zagreb, Croatia, and Banja Luka, Bosnia.
The victims were honored with masses in the churches of Belgrade. The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Porfirig, described the shooting as “an unprecedented catastrophe for our nation and homeland”.