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Serbian protesters demand improved security after shootings

May 13, 2023

Demonstrators protested against violence in Serbian society in Belgrade following two mass shootings that rattled the Balkan nation.

Demonstrators hold Serbian flags and a banner reading "Serbia against violence" as they march
The second 'Serbia Against Violence" rally this week drew thousands onto the streetsImage: Andrej Isakovic/AFP

Tens of thousands of people marched through the Serbian capital, Belgrade, on Friday to demand the resignation of top officials, better security, and a ban on violent TV content.

It was the second large "Serbia Against Violence" rally after two back-to-back mass shootings in which 17 people, including children, were killed.

They have demanded the resignation of Interior Minister Bratislav Gasic and state security agency director Aleksandar Vulin and called for a special parliamentary session to discuss the government's response to the deadly shootings.

They also want two pro-government TV stations, which they accuse of promoting violent and vulgar content, shut down.

Anger aimed at President Aleksandar Vucic

The protesters, mainly opposition supporters, slammed Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic, whom they have accused of fueling intolerance and hate speech that they say indirectly led to the mass shootings.

People at a protest "Serbia against violence" in reaction to mass shootings that have shaken Serbia
During the demonstration, protesters blocked a key avenue, highway junction, and key bridge.Image: Marko Djurica/REUTERS

Vucic has dismissed the protests as a "political" stunt.

"They scheduled their political rallies during national mourning days, with a sole purpose of violence and violent seizure of power," Vucic said in a televised interview.

He was planning a separate rally for his own supporters later this month.

Police collect illegal firearms 

Within a span of two days, 17 individuals lost their lives, and 21 sustained injuries in two separate mass shootings.

The first incident occurred on May 3, when a 13-year-old boy opened fire at his school in central Belgrade using his father's gun. The following day, a 20-year-old man randomly fired at people in a rural area south of the capital.

Both shooters surrendered to the police.

Serbian leader pledges gun controls after shootings

On Monday, police launched a one-month amnesty for surrendering illegal weapons.

Vucic said around 10,000 weapons, including hand-held disposable anti-tank launchers, explosive ordnance, and tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition, had already been handed over.

lo/kb (AP, AFP, Reuters)