A GUNMAN opened fire at a restaurant in the eastern Czech Republic, killing eight people and wounding one before he fatally shot himself, officials said yesterday.
It was the worst shooting attack in the country’s history.
The gunman was a local man aged around 60, said Patrik Kuncar, mayor of the south-eastern town of Uhersky Brod. A waitress from the restaurant was hospitalised, he said.
Interior minister Milan Chovanec, who visited the scene, said: “It was not a terrorist attack.”
Mr Chovanec said the man had a gun licence. Police spokesman Pavel Stransky said the gunman killed eight before killing himself.
The attack shocked the town of 17,000 that is 185 miles south-east of Prague and is home to the Ceska Zbrojovka gun plant.
According to a crime-line operator at the Czech TV station Prima, the shooter called the TV station just minutes before the incident.
Pavel Labduska from Prima said he received a call at 12:56pm local time yesterday. A man speaking in a quiet, slow voice told him the TV station should send a crew to Uhersky Brod, because something was about to happen.
Asked about the details, the caller said he was “being bullied by many people and no authorities are helping him”, Mr Labduska said. For that reason, the caller said, he would “do something about it”.
Mr Labduska said he realised the man was very stressed as he was breathing deeply and speaking with long pauses. The man told him he was at Marianske Square in Uhersky Brod and that he was going to harm people. He did not give him a precise location but said he was armed.
Mr Labduska said he alerted the police and tried to keep the man on the line, but the man hung up on him. Within minutes, the shooting is said to have started.
The country’s chief police officer, Tomas Tuhy, said authorities wouldn’t reveal more information in the coming hours because of the ongoing investigation.
Mayor Kuncar said: “Nobody believed anything like that could happen in such a small town.
“I can hardly imagine what consequences it will have for the future life in this town.”
The Czech Republic has strict gun control laws, but hunting is popular in the Eastern European nation.
“I am shocked by the tragic attack in Uhersky Brod,” prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in a statement while on a trip to South Korea. He offered his condolences to the victim’s relatives.
Petr Gabriel was in the restaurant’s bathroom when the shooting began and spent two hours in there until found by police. “That saved my life,” Mr Gabriel said.
Tomas Prouza, Czech Republic’s European affairs minister, also offered his condolences.
The Czech Republic became an independent nation in 1993.
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