A man went on a shooting spree in the streets of a town in western Montenegro on Friday, killing 10 people, including two children, before being shot dead by a bystander, officials said. The country’s prime minister called the attack an “unprecedented tragedy”.
Montenegro’s state television RTCG previously reported that the gunman killed 11 people and was shot dead by police.
Montenegrin police chief Zoran Brdjanin said in a video statement shared with media that the attacker was a 34-year-old man whom he identified only by his initials, VB
Brdjanin said the man used a shotgun to first kill two children aged 8 and 11 and their mother, who lived as tenants in the attacker’s house in the Medovina neighborhood of Cetinje.
The gunman then entered the street and randomly shot another 13 people, including seven fatally, the chief said.
“At the moment it is not clear what prompted VB to commit this atrocious act,” said Brdjanin.
Andrijana Nastic, the prosecutor coordinating the crime scene investigation, told reporters the gunman was killed by a bystander and a police officer was among the injured. She said nine of those killed died at the scene and two died at a hospital where they were taken for surgery.
Cetinje, seat of the former royal government of Montenegro, lies 22 miles west of Podogrica, the current capital of the tiny Balkan nation.
Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic wrote on his Telegram channel that the incident was “an unprecedented tragedy” and urged the nation “to be in our thoughts with the families of the innocent victims, their loved ones, their friends and all inhabitants of Cetinje”.
President Milo Djukanovic said on Twitter that he was “deeply moved by the news of the terrible tragedy” in Cetinje, calling for “solidarity” with the families who lost loved ones in the incident.
Montenegro is famous for its picturesque beaches, framed by nearby mountains that have long attracted tourists.
Cetinje is the site of the former royal capital of the country and is located in a mountainous valley that has largely stagnated economically over the past decades.
Residents were left in shock after the shooting.
“I can’t believe this happened in Cetinje and Montenegro. I don’t know what to say, I’m speechless. I don’t know where this can lead us,” said Milorad Mitrovic, a resident of Cetinje at RTCG.
The incident comes as the country is in the midst of the highly anticipated tourist season after two years of the coronavirus pandemic.
With an unemployment rate of around 18% and an average monthly salary of less than 520 euros ($614), Montenegro is counting on tourism and the attraction of some 300 km of azure coast to increase its income.
Holiday destinations such as Budva and Kotor attract large crowds, the latter being on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Organized crime and corruption remained two major problems plaguing the country and which the authorities pledged to solve under pressure from the EU.
Mass shootings, however, have been rare in the Adriatic nation.
AFP contributed to this report.