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Funerals Begin in Serbia for Victims of Two Mass Shootings

Shootings in a school in Belgrade and a day later in a rural area left 17 people dead and 21 injured

Funerals are being held in Serbia for some of the victims of two mass shootings that happened in just two days this week, leaving 17 people dead and 21 injured, many of them children.

The shootings on Wednesday in a school in Belgrade and on Thursday in a rural area south of the capital city have left the nation stunned with grief and disbelief.

Though Serbia is awash with weapons and no stranger to crisis situations after the wars of the 1990s, a school shooting like the one on Wednesday has never happened before. The most recent previous mass shooting was in 2013 when a war veteran killed 13 people.

On Wednesday, a 13-year-old boy opened fire on his fellow students, killing seven girls, a boy and a school guard. A day later, a 20-year-old man fired randomly in two villages in central Serbia, killing eight people.

Authorities have promised a gun crackdown and said they would boost security in schools. Thousands lit candles and left flowers near the shooting site in Belgrade, in an outpouring of sadness and solidarity.

Serbian media reported that four of the eight children killed in the school shooting, as well as the Vladislav Ribnikar school guard, will be buried at cemeteries in Belgrade on Saturday, the second day of a three-day mourning period for the victims.

About 30 miles (50km) to the south, a mass funeral service will be held in the small village of Malo Orašje for five young men who were killed in the shooting rampage on Thursday evening. Villagers told Serbian media the tragedy was too huge to handle.

“Five graves! He [the killer] shut down five families,” one villager told N1 television. “How could this happen?”

Serbian police have said the suspected gunman stopped a taxi after his rampage and made the driver take him to a village farther south, where he was arrested on Friday. Officers later said they found weapons and ammunition in two houses he was using there.

The motive for both shootings remained unclear. The 13-year-old boy has been placed in a mental health clinic, too young to be criminally charged. His father was arrested for allegedly teaching his son to use guns and not securing his weapons well enough.

The suspected village gunman wore a pro-Nazi T-shirt, authorities said, and complained of “disparagement”, though it was unclear what he meant. The populist leader Aleksandar Vučić promised the “monsters” would “never see the light of day again”.

Those injured in the two shootings have been hospitalised and most have undergone complicated surgical procedures. A girl and a boy from the school shootings remain in serious condition, and the village victims are stable but under constant observation.

The school shooting left six children and a teacher wounded, while 14 people were injured in the villages of Malo Orašje and Dubona. The dead in Dubona included a young, off-duty police officer and his sister.

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Source: theguardian