Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic has promised justice after two mass shootings in two days left at least 17 people dead, including eight children. The first tragedy was a school shooting and the second was a drive-by attack.
The country and surrounding Balkan region are in a state of shock as such tragedies are rare in Serbia. The suspect in the drive-by attack opened fire on passersby in a town south of Belgrade, killing at least eight people and wounding 14 others. The day before, a 13-year-old suspect carried out an attack officials say he had planned for months, killing eight of his schoolmates and a security guard.
President Vucic deplored Thursday’s “terrorist attack” and proposed tough new gun controls. He proposed a moratorium on gun permits regardless of weapon type, in what he called a “practical disarmament” of Serbia that would also include more frequent medical and psychological checks of gun owners. The government would also hire 1,200 new police officers to improve security in schools.
Vucic added that he had proposed the reintroduction of the death penalty but said the government was against such a step.
The Balkans is among the top regions in Europe in the number of guns per capita and Serbia is awash with weapons left over from the wars of the 1990s. Still, the country has strict gun laws and mass shootings are rare – the last was in 2013 when a war veteran killed 13 people in a central Serbian village.
The teenage attacker planned Wednesday’s attack for a month, drawing sketches of classrooms at the school and compiling lists of the children he planned to kill. One girl who was shot in the head remains in a life-threatening condition, while a boy is in serious condition with spinal injuries.