Serbs hand over thousands of weapons after mass shootings

BELGRADE, Serbia (HPD) — Serbian citizens have turned in some 6,000 unregistered weapons in the first three days of an amnesty period, as part of a disarmament campaign following two mass shootings last week, police said Thursday.

Police have also received 300,000 rounds of ammunition and some 470 explosive devices in that period, the Serbian Interior Ministry said on Instagram.

The campaign to eliminate excess weapons in Serbia began after 17 people were killed and 21 wounded in two mass shootings last week. Many of the victims were children, and one of the shootings was the first school shooting in Serbian history.

Authorities have given citizens until June 8 to turn in unregistered weapons or face prison terms. New gun licenses have also been banned, more controls have been imposed on owners and shooting ranges, and tougher penalties have been introduced for illegal gun possession.

The attacker at the school was a 13-year-old boy who used his father’s gun to shoot his classmates at a central Belgrade primary school on Wednesday, according to police. The next day, a 20-year-old man shot people with an automatic weapon in a rural area south of the capital.

Serbia is estimated to be one of the European countries with the most weapons per person, due in part to wars in the 1990s. Police on Wednesday arrested the father of the suspect in the attack in the town for illegal possession of weapons.

The two events have provoked calls for changes and more tolerance in Serbian society. Thousands of people have marched in opposition-led protests in Belgrade and other towns, demanding the resignation of populist government ministers and a ban on TV stations broadcasting violent content and hosting war criminals. More protests were planned for Friday.

Serbia’s populist President Aleksandar Vucic has accused opposition parties of using the tragedy for political gain. He has announced his own departure at the end of May.

Vucic, once an ultranationalist who now says he wants Serbia to join the European Union, has been accused of fomenting hate speech against his rivals, limiting freedom of expression with a tight grip on traditional media and seizing control of all media. the institutions of the state. He has denied it.

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