Czech Republic mourns university shooting victims

WEB DESK: Events have been held across the Czech Republic to honour victims of the worst mass shooting in the country’s history. The killings have sent shock waves through what is considered the 12th-safest country in the world.

The Czech Republic observed a minute of silence at noon on Saturday as the country holds a national day of mourning after a mass shooting at a Prague university killed 15 people including the shooter.

The shooting was carried out by a 24-year-old student who is now thought to have killed his father on the same day and a man and a baby last week.

What events have taken place?

National flags on public buildings flew at half-staff, while bells rang out at noon to mark the start of the minute of silence, which retailers said they would also observe.

Czech President Petr Pavel and speakers of both houses of Parliament attended a special Mass for the victims held at St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague, with similar religious services taking place in other cities and towns.

Christmas markets in several locations were closed or reduced their programs, with other pre-Christmas events cancelled.

Mourners laid flowers and lit candles in front of the university buildings.

What happened Thursday?

The shooter opened fire at the Charles University Faculty of Arts, where he had been studying, killing 13 people immediately and wounding 25 others.

The gunman then killed himself, and one of the wounded people later died in hospital.

Police and prosecutors said they had evidence that the shooter also killed his father earlier in the day and a man and a baby near the Czech capital last week.

The university confirmed that two staff members were among the 14 people killed.

Read more: Gunman kills 14 in unprecedented attack at Prague university

No link to any extremist ideology or groups is suspected by investigators, who say the motive for the shooting was still unclear.

The Czech Republic has rarely experienced mass shootings. But in 2015 a man shot seven men and a woman dead in a restaurant before killing himself in the southeast, and in 2019 another gunman killed seven people and then himself in an eastern hospital.

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