Serbian police arrest gunman after eight killed in second mass shooting in two days

It's the second mass shooting in just two days in Serbia, as Faye Barker reports

Serbian police have arrested a man suspected of killing eight people in the country’s second mass shooting in as many days, according to state media.

The report said the man, identified by initials UB, was arrested near the central Serbian town of Kragujevac, about 100 kilometres south of Belgrade.

Reports of the arrest followed an all-night search by hundreds of officers, who sealed off an area south of Belgrade where the shooting took place late on Thursday.

It came just a day after a 13-year-old boy used his father’s guns to kill eight fellow students and a guard at a school in Belgrade.

What happened on Thursday?

A gunman shot randomly at people in a drive-by attack in three Serbian villages late on Thursday, killing at least eight and wounding 14, according to state broadcaster RTS.

Hundreds of police were searching for a suspect who fled after the attack, RTS also reported early on Friday.

Police officers prepare for a chase in the village of Dubona. Credit: AP

Journalists at the scene said the area was swarming with police as frightened residents ventured out of their houses in the early morning hours.

“I heard some tak-tak-tak sounds," recalled Milan Prokic, a resident in Dubona, a village near the town of Mladenovac.

Mr Prokic said he first thought villagers were shooting to celebrate a childbirth, as is tradition in Serbia and the Balkans.

“But it wasn’t that. Shame, great shame,” Mr Prokic added.

“They say the kid killed them for no reason. They say there was an argument here at the centre of the village, he went home, took his arms and came back to kill them."

Mr Prokic said he didn't believe this: "If it were true, why did he go to neighboring villages to kill?”

Serbia was already mourning the loss of seven students and a teacher at a school in Belgrade. Credit: AP

Serbian Interior Minister Bratislav Gasic called Thursday's drive-by shootings “a terrorist act,” state media reported.

Hundreds of special police and helicopter units, as well as ambulances, were sent to the area, which has been sealed off as police search for the attacker.

No other details were immediately available, and police had not issued a statement.

What happened on Wednesday?

Before the attack, Serbia spent much of Thursday reeling from its first mass shooting in ten years.

A 13-year-old boy, whom police identified as Kosta Kecmanovic, walked into Vladislav Ribnikar primary school and killed eight people, leaving seven hospitalised.

Authorities said Kosta Kecmanovic is too young to be tried. Credit: AP

The same day, the government ordered a two-year moratorium on short-barrel guns, tougher control of people with guns and shooting grounds, and tougher sentences for people who enable minors to get hold of guns.

A registered gun owner in Serbia must be over 18, healthy, and have no criminal record. Weapons must be kept locked and separately from ammunition.

One girl who was shot in the head remains in life-threatening condition, and a boy is in serious condition with spinal injuries, doctors said on Thursday morning.

Authorities have said the shooter is too young to be charged and tried.

He has been placed in a mental institution, while his father has been detained on suspicion of endangering public security because his son got hold of the guns.

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