Europe

Slovakia gunman kills himself after shooting seven dead

Bratislava police on scene of shooting, 30 Aug 10
Image caption Police rushed to the area and residents were warned to stay off the streets

A gunman has opened fire in Slovakia's capital, killing seven people and injuring 14 others before shooting himself dead, police say.

Four women and a man, thought to be members of the same family, were killed in a flat in the Devinska Nova Ves district of Bratislava.

A second man was found dead outside while the seventh victim was shot as she stood on her balcony nearby.

The gunman shot himself dead after being surrounded by police.

Officials said he had been armed with an automatic assault rifle and two handguns. Images in the local media showed him wearing ear protectors and pointing a rifle at a building.

Slovakia's Interior Minister Daniel Lipsic said five members of a Roma (Gypsy) family were killed inside their apartment in the north-west of the city.

Another man found dead outside the apartment was probably also a member of the family, said Mr Lipsic

The seventh victim is thought to have been shot as she went to her balcony to investigate the sound of gunfire. Officers said she died in hospital of her injuries.

'No choice'

The attacker has not been named but is thought to have been about 50 years old.

Officers had surrounded him as he left the apartment building, said a police spokesman.

"He was alone. He fired at everything that moved during his escape bid," Cmdr Jaroslav Spisiak told reporters.

"More officers came, surrounded him, and he had no choice but to commit suicide."

Details of the shooting remain sketchy and the motive for the attack is not yet known. Police have not identified the gunman nor confirmed speculation in the local media that he was a former soldier.

Earlier reports had suggested the attacker was a 15-year-old boy.

Eyewitnesses said the shooting took place on a busy street, near a supermarket and a kindergarten. Police rushed to the scene and sealed off the area.

A teacher at the nursery school, Marta Vozdranukova, told Slovak TV that a Roma (Gypsy) man was among those shot dead and that the gunman had attacked a family in a flat above the school.

There were no casualties in the school, she said. "An injured man crawled in, but he has been already taken away in an ambulance for treatment. We just gave him first aid."

Renata Vandriakova, head of emergencies at a hospital in the Slovak capital, said one person had been operated on and was in a critical condition.

Local media reports said one of those injured was a police officer who was shot in the head. A three-year-old boy was also slightly hurt.