A man went on a shooting rampage in the streets of a western Montenegro city Friday, killing 10 people, including two children, before being shot dead by a passerby, officials said. The country’s prime minister called the attack an “unprecedented tragedy.”
Montenegro state television RTCG previously reported the gunman had killed 11 people and had been shot dead by police.
Montenegrin police chief Zoran Brdjanin said in a video statement shared with media that attacker was a 34-year-old man he identified only by his initials, VB
Brdjanin said the man used a hunting rifle to first shoot to death two children ages 8 and 11 and their mother, who lived as tenants in the attacker’s house in Cetinje’s Medovina neighborhood.
The shooter then walked into the street and randomly shot 13 more people, seven of them fatally, the chief said.
“At the moment, it is unclear what provoked VB to commit this atrocious act,” Brdjanin said.
Andrijana Nastic, the prosecutor coordinating the crime scene investigation, told journalists that the gunman was killed by a passerby and that a police officer was among the wounded. She said nine of those killed died at the scene and two died at a hospital where they were taken for surgery.
Cetinje, the seat of Montenegro’s former royal government, is 22 miles west of Podogrica, the current capital of the small 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 their thoughts, with the families of the innocent victims, their relatives, friends and all the people 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 been a draw for tourists.
Cetinje is the site of the country’s former royal capital and lies in a mountainous valley that has largely stagnated economically in recent decades.
Residents were left in shock at the shooting’s wake.
“I can’t believe that this happened in Cetinje and Montenegro. I do not know what to say, I am speechless. I do not know where this can lead us,” said Cetinje resident Milorad Mitrovic to RTCG.
The incident comes as the country is in the full throes of its highly anticipated tourism high season following two years of the coronavirus pandemic.
With an unemployment rate of some 18 percent and an average monthly salary of under 520 euros ($614), Montenegro counts on tourism and the appeal of some 300 km of azure coastline to boost its revenues.
Holiday destinations such as Budva and Kotor draw big crowds, the latter appearing on the UNESCO world heritage list.
Organized crime and corruption have remained two major issues plaguing the country which authorities have pledged to tackle under pressure from the EU.
Mass shootings, however, have been rare in the Adriatic nation.
AFP contributed to this report.