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Dozens of Serbia schools receive bomb threats following mass shootings in early May

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Dozens of Serbian schools on Wednesday received bomb threats, the education ministry said, amid security concerns following two mass shootings early this month, including one in an elementary school.

The education ministry said 78 elementary schools and 37 high schools in Belgrade received warnings by email early on Wednesday that explosive devices had allegedly been planted.

Classes were postponed and students evacuated as police checked the buildings.

There have been no reports that bombs were found in any of the schools, and police are yet to issue their report.

Similar multiple threats have been sent to school addresses in the past, in Serbia and other countries in the region, and have proven false each time. However, the threats could further heighten security fears after the May 3 and May 4 shootings that left 18 people dead and 20 injured.

Authorities already have deployed police in schools and launched a gun crackdown.

The first shooting happened at an elementary school in central Belgrade when a 13-year-old boy took his father’s gun and opened fire. A day later, a 20-year-old shot randomly at people with an automatic weapon in two villages south of Belgrade,

The shootings stunned Serbia and sparked calls for action. Tens of thousands marched in two protests against violence after the shootings, and more protests are planned on Friday.

Graphic novels are displayed for sale at a bookstore in New York City on Sunday, October 8, 2023. On Tuesday, the Commerce Department releases U.S. retail sales data for September. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)
Graphic novels are displayed for sale at a bookstore in New York City on Sunday, October 8, 2023. On Tuesday, the Commerce Department releases U.S. retail sales data for September. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

Opposition parties are demanding that ministers of interior and intelligence chief resign and that two pro-government networks be stripped of nation-wide broadcast licenses because of airing violent content and hosting war criminals and crime figures on their program.

Opponents also have accused populist President Aleksandar Vucic of hate speech against critics and a crackdown on democratic freedoms, which they say fuel tensions and divisions in the troubled Balkan nation.

Vucic has denied this. He has called an own rally for May 26 while suggesting a snap election could be held by September.

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