Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the Serbian capital on Friday, the third protest in a month, to demonstrate against the way in which the government has handled the crisis of violence in the Balkan country following two mass shootings this month, despite authorities rejecting criticism and ignoring their demands.
In a show of defiance, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s right-wing nationalist party staged a counter-protest in a city north of Belgrade that drew thousands of its supporters.
Opposition protesters in Belgrade chanted slogans against Vucic, demanding the resignation of two high-ranking ministers and the revocation of the broadcasting licenses of two television networks that, they say, they promote violence and glorify crime figures.
Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and other government officials attended a parliamentary session on Friday focused on the May 3-4 shootings and opposition demands to replace the interior minister and intelligence chief after the incidents left a total of 18 dead, many of them children.
The two shootings shocked the nation, especially as the first occurred at an elementary school in central Belgrade when a 13-year-old boy took his father’s gun and opened fire on his classmates. Eight students and a school guard were killed and seven more people were injured. One more girl later died in hospital from head injuries.
A day later, a 20-year-old man used an automatic weapon to randomly attack people as he passed through two villages south of Belgrade, killing eight people and injuring 14.
Brnabic rejected allegations that populist authorities were somehow responsible for the shootings.
(With information from AP)
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