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Serbia tightens gun control after deadly school shooting

May 4, 2023

A host of gun control measures were announced after a teenager killed eight fellow students and a security guard in a school shooting. Gun owners have been warned to keep their weapons locked up.

People react as they pay tribute following a school mass shooting in Belgrade, Serbia
The shooting at the Vladislav Ribnikar primary school in Belgrade send shock waves through SerbiaImage: Zorana Jevtic/REUTERS

Serbia's Interior Ministry warned gun owners on Thursday to keep their weapons empty and locked in gun cabinets or safes.

The warning comes a day after a 13-year-old boy opened fire on his classmates, killing eight children and a security guard at a primary school in the capital Belgrade. A teacher and six pupils were also wounded.

"The Interior Ministry is appealing to all gun owners to store their guns with care, locked up in safes or closets so they are out of reach of others, particularly children," it said in a statement.

Police will do spot checks at registered gun owners' homes to ensure they keep weapons safe and those who are found to be negligent could be charged.

It is part of a host of gun control measures announced by President Aleksandar Vucic hours after Wednesday's shooting.

He also announced a moratorium on new gun licenses other than for hunting and said there would be a revision of existing permits and enhanced surveillance of shooting ranges.

Toxicology tests negative

The suspected teen shooter had visited shooting ranges with his father and used his pistols in the attack, police said.

The boy was admitted to a psychiatric institution for an evaluation, and a toxicology test returned negative, authorities said on Thursday. Under Serbian law he is too young to be held criminally liable.

Police said the teenager had planned the attack for a month, drew sketches of classrooms and made lists of children he planned to kill.

Meanwhile, two of the children who were wounded but survived the shooting were still in critical condition. The remaining children and the teacher were in stable condition in hospital.

People gather to pay tribute near the school where a mass shooting was carried out by a teenager who killed fellow students and staff in Belgrade, Serbia
A day after the shooting, residents in Belgrade paid tribute to the lives lost and mourned in front of the schoolImage: Antonio Bronic/REUTERS

Three days of mourning

The Vladislav Ribnikar primary school where the shooting remained sealed off on Thursday. Heaps of flowers, small teddy bears, a gray and pink toy elephant and a girl's ballet shoes hung on the fence.

To help people deal with the tragedy, authorities announced they were setting up a helpline. Hundreds answered a call to donate blood for the wounded victims.

A three-day mourning period to remember the victims will begin Friday morning.

lo/rs (AP, AFP, Reuters)