- Associated Press - Monday, August 30, 2010

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — A gunman went on a rampage in Slovakia’s capital on Monday, killing seven people and wounding 15 before committing suicide, officials said.

Five of the fatalities were members of a Roma family who lived in an apartment where the man began his attack with a machine gun and two pistols, Interior Minister Dusan Lipsic said.

Roma, also known as Gypsies, often face discrimination in Eastern Europe, but Mr. Lipsic and police Chief Jaroslav Spisiak said the unidentified gunman’s motive was not known.

Another man shot and killed outside the building was “probably” also a member of the same family, Mr. Lipsic said.

“So far we don’t know the motive … so I will not speculate whether it did or did not have (a) racial motive,” he told the Associated Press at a news conference. “I doubt it, but of course the investigation is ongoing.”

The shooting took place at midmorning in the rundown Devinska Nova Ves neighborhood, which is surrounded by fields and industrial areas on the outskirts of the Slovak capital.

The five Roma who died in the apartment — four women and a man — lived in a brown high-rise building, Chief Spisiak said.

Police rushed to the scene as the attacker, about 50 years old, was leaving the building, and he fired indiscriminately at people in the area, wounding 15, including a policeman and a 3-year-old boy who was shot in the ear, Mr. Lipsic said.

The seventh fatality was a woman who was shot in the area as she walked to the balcony of her apartment when she heard the gunfire, Mr. Lipsic said.

Daniel Zitnan of Bratislava’s Children’s Hospital said the 3-year-old boy was hurt only slightly and had been released. During the attack, he was in a car that was hit by bullets, Mr. Zitnan said.

Renata Vandriakova, who heads the emergency room of one Bratislava hospital and oversees the city’s response to health emergencies, said one of the 15 wounded had to be operated on and was in critical condition.

Emergency crews blocked off the scene of the attack, which also includes a kindergarten and a supermarket.

Hours after the attack, stunned residents milled about in disbelief.

“I’m shocked,” said 20-year-old Andre Smahovski, a student whose friend was injured in the attack. “Normally this doesn’t happen here.”

Christian Padour, 40, described how his sister-in-law was at a doctor’s office when a woman who had been shot by the gunman entered — to the horror of those present.

“I feel safe here, but now it looks like the Wild West,” Mr. Padour said.

Nadia Rybarova reported from the Czech Republic.


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