Sadness and dismay in Serbia after school shooting

Serbia on Thursday mourned the victims of the shooting at a Belgrade primary school in which a 13-year-old student killed his eight classmates and a guard

Sadness and dismay in Serbia after school shooting

Serbia on Thursday mourned the victims of the shooting at a Belgrade primary school in which a 13-year-old student killed his eight classmates and a guard.

In the aftermath of this unprecedented massacre in this Balkan country, classes in all schools began with a minute of silence to pay tribute to the victims.

Throughout the day, thousands of residents of the Serbian capital, especially young people, laid flowers, toys, messages, and lit candles in front of the Vladislav Ribnikar school in the city center, where the carnage took place.

This establishment, which welcomes students from 7 to 15 years old, was closed. Police were still present at his entrance, noted an AFP journalist.

"I cried all day yesterday. My son was going to this school," Mileva Milosevic, an 85-year-old retired lawyer who lives near the school, told AFP.

"Where are we as human beings, where is our empathy? How come we failed to see the problem, both with the person who did this, and with all the other people who led to what happened?" asked Ana Djuric, another 37-year-old Belgrader.

People gathered in several other Serbian cities to pay tribute to the victims, but also in the countries of the region, in particular in the Croatian capital, Zagreb, and in Banja Luka, capital of the Serb entity of Bosnia. The Bosnian government has declared a day of national mourning.

In Serbia, three days of national mourning have been declared from Friday. Planned celebrations and events will be largely cancelled.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic lamented Wednesday "one of the most difficult days in the contemporary history" of Serbia.

"Terrible pain has wounded the soul of all of us," Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Porfirije said Thursday evening while celebrating a service in memory of the deceased at Saint Sava's Cathedral in Belgrade. in the presence of the parents of several children killed, reported national television (RTS).

A little later, some 20,000 supporters observed a minute of silence before the basketball match played in Belgrade by Partizan and Real Madrid, in the quarter-finals of the Euroleague, reported AFP photographers.

Fans then threw red roses onto the pitch, while Partizan players were dressed in black jerseys that read "Vladislav Ribnikar Primary School".

On Wednesday morning, a 13-year-old student, armed with a 9mm pistol and several magazines, opened fire in this school, first killing his guard and three students, in the hallways, before going into a classroom where he shot first at a female teacher, then at students.

He killed a total of seven girls, including one of French nationality, and a boy, all born between 2009 and 2011, as well as the guard. Six children and their history teacher were injured and hospitalized.

Two students, a boy and a girl, seriously injured, are still in "critical condition", according to officials of two hospitals where the injured were admitted.

The assailant was arrested shortly after the killings in the schoolyard, where he was awaiting the arrival of police. He himself had called the police to announce what he had just done, said Belgrade police chief Veselin Milic.

"He said he had shot people at school and that he is (...) a psychopath who needs to calm down," Milic told RTS.

Mr Ilic said at a press conference on Wednesday that the assailant, who was placed in a psychiatric hospital, had "prepared for the shooting for a month" and that he had made a plan of the school with the names of the " priority targets".

The shooter's father, owner of the weapon used, a reputable doctor, was arrested and should be heard Friday by a prosecutor. His mother was also arrested.

In this country of about seven million inhabitants, where some 765,000 weapons, including more than 232,000 pistols, are legally registered, the Ministry of the Interior announced Thursday home checks to check whether these weapons were kept in accordance with the rules. .

05/04/2023 23:19:57 -         Belgrade (AFP) -         © 2023 AFP