Bosnian ex-soldier kills six in small-town rampage

Other News Materials 29 May 2008 23:17 (UTC +04:00)

A former Bosnian soldier shot his neighbours, then opened fire in a city bus, killing six people Thursday in what was believed to be the worst such rampage since the country's 1992-95 war, dpa reported.

The suspect, Tomislav Petrovic, 45, had spent time in a psychiatric ward after recently firing a gun in the street near his home in Donja Lipica, a veteran's group said. He reportedly had a history of domestic violence.

After killing his victims and wounding the bus driver, Petrovic continued to roam the hamlet outside the northern city of Tuzla, shooting at cars and houses, until a police patrol stopped and arrested him, news reports said.

"He was just shooting around, killing everybody," said Ranko Petrovic, whose 50-year-old parents died in the bus.

Just minutes before, the parents had woken up Ranko and his sister Sandra for school. When Ranko heard shots and looked through the window, he saw his father lying dead across the driver's seat and the shooter reloading his weapon.

Also killed were a couple and another man at their next-door homes and a woman on the bus, police spokesman Miralem Malkic said. Police said it was unclear whether Petrovic had family links to the victims.

Petrovic's sister-in-law told reporters her sister called her the night before saying Petrovic was violent and she feared for her life. When Petrovic couldn't locate his wife Thursday morning, he went on the rampage, witnesses in Donja Lipica said.

Police were investigating the shooter's motive, but one expert blamed possible traumas - and the huge number of firearms - left over from Bosnia's war.

Alija Muratovic, who heads the Tuzla-based Association of War Veterans Treated for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, said his group knew about Petrovic.

"Tragic cases like this are possible because of negligence of the system. The state administration failed in taking proper care about people suffering from PTSD, as it failed in everything," Muratovic said.

The group warned the authorities about Petrovic and other similar cases, but got no response, he told Deutsche Press-Agentur dpa.

"Two months ago he took his gun and opened random fire on the street. He was then sent to the local psychiatric hospital, but was soon released," Muratovic said.

Petrovic last yea beat a neighbour with a baseball bat and he was often violent toward his wife and two daughters, relatives said.

Families of the victims and neighbours said he was always conflict-prone. Sometimes, they said, they did not call the police, believing that would only anger him more.