Tributes held for some victims of shooting in Serbia | News Without violence

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There were sobs of grief as funerals were held in Serbia on Saturday for some of the victims of two mass shootings that happened just a day apart this week, leaving 17 people dead and 21 injured. many of them children.

The shootings on Wednesday in a school in Belgrade and Thursday in a rural area south of the capital have left the country in shock and shock.

Although Serbia is heavily armed and no stranger to crisis situations after the wars of the 1990s, a school shooting like Wednesday’s has never happened before. The last mass shooting was in 2013 when a war veteran killed 13 people.

Wednesday’s shooter was a 13-year-old boy who opened fire on his classmates, killing seven girls, a boy and a school guard. A day later, a 20-year-old man opened fire in two towns in central Serbia, killing eight people.

Classmates and hundreds of others wept incredulously as one of the girls killed in the school shooting was laid to rest in Belgrade in a small white coffin covered in piles of flowers. Overcome with grief, the girl’s mother could barely stand. One girl collapsed during the service amid screaming and chaos.

As the country struggled to deal with the shootings, authorities promised to crack down on guns and said they would increase security in schools. Thousands lit candles and left flowers near the scene of the shooting in Belgrade, in an outpouring of grief and solidarity.

“My soul is sorry for them,” said Vesna Kostic, who came to pay her respects outside the school on Saturday. “I will be looking for a reason, a reason why this has happened to (the shoot), why has this happened to us.

Serbian media reported that four of the eight children killed in the school shooting, as well as school guard Vladislav Ribnikar, were buried at a Belgrade cemetery on Saturday, the second day of three days of mourning for the victims. suffering

About 50 kilometers (31 miles) to the south, a mass funeral was held in the small town of Malo Orasje for five young men who were shot in the shooting attack on Thursday night.

Mourners wept and lit candles as they waited for the coffins to be placed on five benches outside the village church for service.

“Five graves! he is [the killer] to close five families,” said one villager to N1 television. “How could this happen?”

Serbian police have said that the suspected attacker stopped a taxi after his robbery and forced the driver to take him to a town further south, where he was arrested on Friday. Officers later said they found weapons and ammunition in two houses he was using there.

The suspect, identified as Uros Blazic, told prosecutors during questioning in the city center of Smederevo that he shot people he did not know personally because he wanted to scare them sent among residents, state television RTS said. He faces charges of first degree murder and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

The motive for the two shootings was not yet clear. The 13-year-old boy, who is too young to be charged with a crime, was placed in a mental clinic. A father was arrested for allegedly teaching his son how to use guns and not protecting his weapon well enough.

The suspected assailant was wearing a pro-Nazi T-shirt, authorities said, and complained of “demoralization”, although it was unclear what he meant. Serbia’s populist President Aleksandar Vucic promised that the “monsters” would “never see the light of day again”.

Those injured in the two shootings were taken to hospital and most underwent complex surgical procedures. A girl and a boy from the school shooting are still in serious condition; the city’s victims are stable but under constant observation.

The school shooting left six children and a teacher injured, and 14 people were injured in the towns of Malo Orasje and Dubona. Among the dead in Dubona was an unemployed policeman and his sister.

Authorities released a photo showing the suspected shooter when he was arrested – a young man in a police car wearing a blue T-shirt with the slogan “Generation 88” on it. The double eighties are often used as shorthand for “Heil Hitler” as H is the eighth letter of the alphabet.

In addition to the gun crackdown, officials have announced an advanced investigation of social networks and the media. Already before Saturday, several people were questioned for threats or videos that supported the killers on social networks, Tanjug news agency reported.

Serbia’s education ministry outlined an emergency plan for Vladislav Ribnikar school students to gradually return to classes next Wednesday. A team of experts, supported by the UN children’s agency UNICEF, will offer support and monitor the process, a ministry statement said.

Experts have repeatedly warned that decades of crisis and economic hardship, coupled with corrupt institutions and a high level of intolerance in public speech and politics, could push some people over the edge.

The populist-led Balkan country has refused to face up to its role in the wars of the 1990s, war criminals are largely seen as heroes and minority groups regularly face harassment and sometimes physical violence.

“The question now is whether our society is ready to reject the model of violence,” warned psychologist Zarko Korac. “When you glorify a war criminal, you glorify the -his crimes and you will send a message that it is valid.”

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