June 4, 2023


BELGRADE, Serbia  — Hundreds of persons are anticipated to rally in Serbia’s capital on Friday for a 3rd time in a month in protests following two mass shootings, whilst authorities officers within the Balkan nation rejected opposition criticism of the way in which they dealt with the disaster.

The protesters are demanding the resignations of two senior ministers and the revocation of broadcasting licenses for 2 TV networks which, they are saying, promote violence and glorify crime figures.

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and different authorities officers attended a parliamentary session on Friday specializing in the Could 3 and Could 4 shootings and the opposition calls for to switch the inside minister and the intelligence chief following the carnage that left 18 folks useless, a lot of them kids.

The 2 shootings shocked the nation, particularly as a result of the primary one occurred in an elementary college in central Belgrade when a 13-year-old boy took his father’s gun and opened hearth on his fellow college students. Eight college students and a faculty guard have been killed and 7 extra folks wounded. Yet one more woman later died in hospital from head wounds.

A day later, a 20-year-old used an computerized weapon to randomly goal folks he bumped into in two villages south of Belgrade, killing eight folks and wounding 14.

Brnabic rejected allegations that the populist authorities have been in any manner chargeable for the shootings. As a substitute, she accused the opposition of fueling violence in society and threatening President Aleksandar Vucic. Brnabic blasted the opposition-led protests as “purely political”, saying they have been supposed to topple Vucic and the federal government by power.

“You’re the core of the spiral of violence on this society,” Brnabic informed opposition lawmakers. “You’re spewing hatred.”

She additionally stated that “every part that has occurred” in Serbia after the mass shootings was “straight the work of overseas intelligence providers,” including that her authorities could possibly be modified solely by the desire of the folks in elections and never on the streets.

The protest deliberate on Friday night exterior the parliament constructing within the capital, Belgrade, is the third for the reason that shootings. The 2 earlier gatherings drew tens of 1000’s of people that marched peacefully, solely often chanting slogans in opposition to Vucic.

Authorities have launched a gun crackdown within the aftermath of the shootings and despatched police to varsities in an effort to spice up a shaken sense of safety.

Confronted with public stress, the more and more autocratic Vucic has scheduled a rally of his personal for subsequent week whereas suggesting that all the authorities may resign and a snap vote be referred to as for September.

He will even attend a pro-government rally Friday in a city north of Belgrade that’s to start out concurrently the opposition-led protest within the capital.

Inside Minister Bratislav Gasic, whose resignation is demanded by protesters, defended the police measures within the aftermath of the shootings. He additionally informed parliament that residents thus far have handed over greater than 23,000 weapons and over 1 million rounds of ammunition since a one-month amnesty was declared on Could 8.

“Police couldn’t have recognized or predicted that one thing like this may occur,” he stated of the varsity capturing, the primary ever in Serbia.

Gasic additionally confirmed media experiences {that a} man who was lately launched from a psychological hospital on Thursday fired an anti-tank missile at an empty home from a grenade launcher within the city of Ruma, exterior Belgrade. Nobody was injured within the incident, and Gasic stated two folks have been arrested.

Serbia is flooded with weapons left over from the wars of the Nineteen Nineties, together with rocket launchers and hand grenades. Different gun-control measures declared within the wake of the shootings embody higher management of gun house owners and capturing ranges, a moratorium on new licenses and harsh sentences for possession of unlawful weapons.

Dusan Stojanovic contributed.