A 13-year-old boy opened fire on his classmates at a school in the Serbian capital Belgrade on Wednesday morning, killing eight children and a security guard and seriously injuring several others, police said.
The boy, identified by his initials K.K., used his father’s gun to shoot at his teacher and fellow students at the Vladislav Ribnikar primary school, shortly after the lessons began around 8:40 a.m., according to police.
He was arrested in the school yard by the police, who also detained his parents for questioning. The motive for the shooting was not immediately clear.
The shooting shocked Serbia, a Balkan country where mass shootings are extremely rare, especially at schools. The last mass shooting in Serbia occurred in 2013, when a war veteran killed 13 people in a village.
President Aleksandar Vucic declared a national day of mourning and ordered flags to fly at half-staff. He also visited the injured children and their families at a hospital and expressed his condolences to the victims.
“I am deeply saddened and shocked by this tragedy. This is a huge loss for our country and our society. We must do everything we can to prevent such incidents from happening again,” Vucic said.
Prime Minister Ana Brnabic also condemned the shooting and said the government would provide support to the affected families and the school.
“This is an unimaginable horror that has shaken us all. We stand with the families of the victims and the entire school community in this difficult time. We will do everything in our power to help them cope with this trauma,” Brnabic said.
The school was closed for the rest of the week and a crisis team was set up to provide psychological assistance to the students and staff. A memorial service was planned for Thursday at a nearby church.
Many people laid flowers and candles outside the school gate, while others expressed their shock and grief on social media.
“How can this happen? How can a child do this to other children? What kind of world are we living in?” one user wrote on Twitter.
Another user wrote: “My heart goes out to the families of the victims and the survivors. This is a nightmare that no one should ever experience. Rest in peace, little angels.”