VELIKA IVANCA, Serbia (Reuters) - A veteran of the 1990s Balkan wars shot dead 13 people, including his mother, son and a two-year-old child in a dawn rampage through a small village in central Serbia on Tuesday, authorities said.
The man, identified by police as Ljubisa Bogdanovic, also shot his wife before turning the gun on himself. Both were in critical condition in hospital, police said.
“Most of the victims were shot in the head as they slept,” police chief Milorad Veljovic told reporters at the scene in Velika Ivanca, about 40 km (25 miles) southwest of Belgrade.
He said the victims were relatives and neighbours of the man: six men, six women and a child in five houses.
“We’ve never had such a tragedy in Serbia and we have to find out what drove this man to kill so many people as they slept,” said Veljovic. The government called a cabinet session.
The motive for the killings, carried out with a semi-automatic 9-mm pistol shortly after 5 a.m. (0300 GMT), was not known.
Veljovic said Bogdanovic, born in 1953, had fought the 1991-95 war in Croatia during the collapse of federal Yugoslavia and had a firearms permit. He and his son had lost their jobs with a Slovenian firm in Serbia last year.
Serbian media reports said the man’s father and uncle had both committed suicide several years ago.
Police said Bogdanovic turned the gun on himself after seeing a police patrol car approach the village.
“He’s a good man, everyone would open their doors to him, he helped everyone in the neighbourhood,” said neighbour Milovan Konstantinovic.
“Something must have snapped in his head,” he said.
In 2007, a man in the eastern Serbian village of Jabukovac shot and killed nine people and wounded two, and in 2002, in the southern town of Leskovac a man shot dead seven people.
Additional reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic and Matt Robinson in Belgrade; Editing by Louise Ireland