(Belgrade) Serbia woke up to sadness on Thursday, the day after an unprecedented school shooting in Belgrade in which a 13-year-old student killed eight classmates and a guard.

Classes in all schools in this Balkan country of around 7 million people began with a minute of silence to pay tribute to the victims of the killings.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who addressed the nation on Wednesday evening, lamented “ one of the most difficult days in the contemporary history ” of Serbia.

Three days of national mourning were declared from Friday. Celebrations and planned events will be largely cancelled. The Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Porfirije, called on the faithful to attend a prayer for the victims at the end of the day, which will take place in all the churches of the capital.

“I cried all day yesterday. My son went to this school,” Mileva Milosevic, an 85-year-old retired lawyer who lives near the school where the carnage took place, told AFP.

The Vladislav Ribnikar School, which caters for students aged 7 to 15, in the Vracar district of central Belgrade, was closed on Thursday. Police were still present at the entrance to the establishment, noted an AFP journalist.

On Wednesday morning, a 13-year-old student, armed with a 9mm pistol and several magazines, opened fire there, first killing the school guard and three students in the hallways, before driving into a class where he shot first at a teacher and then at the students.

He killed a total of seven girls, including one of French nationality, and a boy, all born between 2009 and 2011, as well as the guard. Six children and their history teacher were injured and hospitalized.

Two students, a boy and a girl, seriously injured, are still in “critical condition”, officials at two hospitals in Belgrade where the injured were admitted Thursday morning.

“ The youth broke in the course of history ”, we read Thursday on the front page of the daily Vecernje Novosti. “ Serbia in shock and in tears ”, affirms the newspaper Danas.

The assailant was arrested shortly after the killings in the schoolyard, where he was awaiting the arrival of police. He himself had called the police to announce what he had just done, said Belgrade police chief Veselin Milic.

“ He said he shot people at school and that he is […] a psychopath who needs to calm down ”, Mr. Milic told Serbian national television (RTS).

“In his statement (to the police) at the crime scene, he said, ‘I was waiting for this day. Here are the best circumstances because […] I can finish everything in one day”, also said the policeman, adding that the teenager had drawn up “ a list of people who irritated him the most”.

Mr. Ilic said at a press conference on Wednesday that the assailant, who was placed in a psychiatric hospital, had “ prepared for the shooting for a month ” ​​and that he had made a plan of the school, with the names of the “ priority targets ”.

The shooter’s father, the legal owner of the weapon used, a reputable doctor, was arrested on Wednesday and remanded in custody for 48 hours. His mother had also been arrested.

In this country where some 765,000 weapons, including more than 232,000 pistols, are legally registered, the Ministry of the Interior announced Thursday home checks to check whether these weapons were kept in accordance with the rules.

After a gathering of thousands of people on Wednesday evening, the population continued Thursday to pay tribute to the victims in front of the school, where residents placed flowers, toys, messages, and lit candles.

“Where are we as human beings, where is our empathy? How come we failed to see the problem, both with the person who did this, and with all the other people who led up to what happened? asks Ana Djuric, a 37-year-old Belgrade resident, in front of the school.