Wednesday 21 February 2018

Gunman kills 13 in village rampage

Serbian police in the village of Velika Ivanca, where a man killed 13 people, including a baby (AP)
Serbian police in the village of Velika Ivanca, where a man killed 13 people, including a baby (AP)
Police guard a house in the Serbian village where a gunman killed 13 people (AP)

A 60-year-old war veteran has shot dead 13 people in Serbia, including a baby, in a pre-dawn house-to-house rampage before trying to kill himself and his wife.

Ljubisa Bogdanovic, used a handgun in the attacks at five houses in Velika Ivanca, a village 30 miles from Belgrade. The dead included six women, several of them his relatives. The killer and his wife survived, but with serious injuries.

Villagers described the suspect as having been a nice, quiet man. They said he first killed his son before leaving the house and then began shooting his neighbours, some of whom were still asleep.

"He knocked on the doors and as they were opened he just fired a shot," said Radovan Radosavljevic. "He was a good neighbour and anyone would open their doors to him. I don't know what happened."

Another neighbour Milovan Kostadinovic said Bogdanovic was caught by a police patrol while on the way to his house. "If they didn't stop him, he would have wiped us all out," Mr Kostadinovic said. He shot himself when police stopped him."

Serbian police chief Milorad Veljovic said 12 people were killed immediately between 5am and 5.30am and one person died in a Belgrade hospital. "We are all caught by surprise," he said. "Most of the victims were shot while asleep."

He said the motive for the killings was unknown. Bogdanovic lost his job last year and had fought as a Serb volunteer soldier in the war in Croatia in 1992. Bogdanovic fought in Vukovar, the eastern Croatian town that was destroyed in a massive Serbian-led army offensive - the scene of the worst bloodshed during Croatia's 1991-95 war for independence.

Although such shootings are rare in Serbia, weapons are readily available, mostly from the 1990s wars in the Balkans. Initial reports said the suspect had a licence for the handgun.

Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said the killings should serve as a warning for the government to pay more attention to gun control laws and other social problems facing the country, which is still reeling from the wars.

Serbia's last mass shooting was in 2007, when a 39-year-old man gunned down nine people and injured two others in an eastern village.

Press Association

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