Bosnia: Soldiers fatally shot ‘in act of terrorism’

Bosnia’s state prosecution office said yesterday it is investigating the killing of two soldiers in Sarajevo as terrorism.

A police officer inspects a bus parked near where an armed man killed soldiers in Sarajevo. Picture: AP

A spokesman said that the Wednesday night attack “has been qualified as an act of terrorism”. Further investigation will reveal all the details regarding the perpetrator, his possible accomplices and his motive, he said.

A man armed with an automatic rifle killed the two Bosnian soldiers in a betting shop and then shot at a public bus. Fragments of broken glass injured the driver and two passengers, one of whom was also a soldier.

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The suspect then fled to his home nearby and blew himself up even before police had encircled the house, police said.

Prime minister Denis Zvizdic said after a late-night emergency session of his Cabinet that it was “an attack on the state”.

A witness who refused to be identified for fear of retribution said the man walked into the betting shop, separated the two soldiers from other visitors and shot them. He wore a band around his head with some Arabic letters, the witness said.

Deputy defence minister Emir Suljagic said, “This country has overcome much worse trouble than terrorism, much worse than an ideology and a cult of death.”

One of the dead soldiers was a Muslim Bosnian and the other was a Bosnian Serb. The betting shop was across the street from their barracks.

Mr Suljagic said although there were several civilians inside the shop, the attacker was specifically targeting soldiers.

“Never again will they catch us unprepared,” he pledged.

His colleague Boris Jerinic said the gunman was “also a known drug addict who committed serious robberies before,” and it was odd he was not under police observation.

The Bosnian Army raised the security level on military locations throughout the country.

Bosnian Muslims traditionally practice a moderate form of Islam, preached by the country’s official Islamic Community, but some have embraced radical teachings from foreign fighters who came to help Muslims during the 1992-95 Bosnian war. Authorities said 94 Bosnians have gone to fight in Syria. Their records show 56 of them have returned, while 26 died there.

This month, a Bosnian court sent an Islamic State supporter to jail for seven years for encouraging, organising and recruiting volunteers for extremist activities in Syria. Husein Bosnic was arrested last year along with more than a dozen other suspects during a police crackdown on Islamic State supporters. He was sentenced under a new law introduced last year.