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Serbia’s education minister resigns after shooting

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Serbia’s education minister resigned on Sunday over two shootings, including a shooting at an elementary school that killed 17 people, and the Serbian government demanded citizens to return all unregistered weapons or face prison terms. urged to do

Education Minister Branko Ružić was the first Serbian official to resign over the shooting, despite widespread calls for more senior officials to step down following the ensuing bloodshed. In explaining his decision, Ruzik cited “the appalling tragedy that has befallen our country”.

Funerals were held over the weekend for nine victims of a school shooting in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, and eight others killed in rural southern Serbia on Thursday night. The violence, in which 21 people were injured, topped Europe’s list of registered weapons per capita, but shocked the Balkan country, which has experienced mass shootings a decade ago.

Shortly after the first attack, Ruzik denounced “the cancerous and malign influence of the Internet, video games and so-called Western values”. This criticism is common in Serbia, which has refused to fully face up to its role in the war with the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Serbian war criminals are mostly viewed as heroes, and pro-Russia and anti-Western sentiment has flourished in recent years as members of the minority group regularly face harassment and sometimes physical violence.

The last mass shooting in Serbia was in 2013 when war veterans killed 13 people. The perpetrator of Wednesday’s violence, the country’s first mass school shooting, was a 13-year-old boy who opened fire on fellow students, killing seven girls, a boy and a school security guard.

The next day, a 20-year-old youth opened fire indiscriminately in two villages in central Serbia, killing eight people. Both she and the boy were arrested in the elementary school attack. The boy was placed in a psychiatric hospital because he was too young to face criminal charges. The man, identified as Uros Blazic, was charged with first-degree murder and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

The motive of the attack is still unknown. Serbian state broadcaster RTS reported that Blazic, who was arrested wearing a pro-Nazi T-shirt, told prosecutors during interrogation on Saturday that he shot people he did not know personally because he wanted to instill fear in the population. Wanted to have.

As the country struggles to come to terms with the past and recent shootings, officials have promised to crack down on guns and say they will increase security in schools and across the country.

The Interior Ministry said on Sunday that people can hand over illegally held weapons without charge from Monday until June 8. Those disobeying the order will face prosecution and potentially years in prison if convicted, government officials warned.

Police officer Jelena Rakisevic said, “We urge all citizens possessing illegal weapons to respond to this call and go to the nearest police station to hand over any weapons.”

Lakicevic said the voluntary surrender applies to all firearms, explosive devices such as grenades, weapon parts and ammunition that people illegally store in their homes.

In his third public address since the killings, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Sunday:

The populist leader also criticized the political opposition for planning protests against his government over its handling of the crisis, saying, “At a time like this there is no sign of division anywhere in the world. It is detrimental to the country.” They said.

Opposition politicians accused Vucic of undermining the rights to a fair trial of the two accused, predicting that the 20-year-old would “never see the light of day again” and releasing medical information about the 13-year-old along with his salary. of his parents.

The opposition also alleged that the president was using his national TV address to promote draconian emergency measures that were undemocratic and illegal.

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