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Attacker Killed After Attempting to Fire Crossbow at Israeli Embassy Guard in Serbia

In a dramatic turn of events in Belgrade, an attacker wielding a crossbow fired at a police officer stationed outside the Israeli embassy, leading to the assailant's death at the hands of security personnel. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic swiftly labeled the incident as a terrorist attack against Serbia.

The attacker, identified by Vucic as Salahudin Zujovic, was a resident of central Serbia who had converted to Islam from Serbian Orthodox Christianity. Vucic revealed that Zujovic had an accomplice who managed to evade capture and remains at large. The Serbian security agencies had been monitoring the duo prior to the attack but lacked sufficient evidence to detain them earlier.

Vucic, speaking to reporters after visiting the injured officer in the hospital, assured that all diplomatic missions in Serbia would be secured and their safety guaranteed. The Israeli foreign ministry confirmed that no embassy staff were harmed and that the police officer, after undergoing surgery to remove an arrow from his neck, was in stable condition.

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Interior Minister Ivica Dacic detailed the incident, stating that the policeman, despite being injured, managed to fire several shots, killing the attacker. Dacic also mentioned that several individuals were arrested on suspicion of being connected to the attack, with investigators exploring potential links to followers of the Wahhabi sect, a puritanical Sunni Muslim group.

The attack took place under the shadow of heightened global security concerns for Israel-linked institutions, which have been on high alert following Israel’s military actions against Hamas in Gaza since October 2023.

The Israeli embassy, in a statement, referred to the incident as "an attempted terrorist attack in the vicinity of the Israeli embassy in Belgrade" and confirmed the embassy's closure and the safety of its employees.

Witnesses recounted how the attacker had approached the police officer several times under the pretense of asking for directions to a museum before retrieving the crossbow from his bag and firing it. The scene outside the embassy was chaotic, with police vehicles surrounding the area and forensic teams examining the attacker's body.

This incident echoes a 2009 case where a Serbian court convicted four Muslims affiliated with the Wahhabi sect for planning an attack on a football stadium in a predominantly Muslim town in southwestern Serbia. 

As Serbia grapples with this latest act of violence, the government’s swift response underscores the nation’s commitment to safeguarding its diplomatic missions and ensuring the safety of its citizens amidst rising global tensions.

July 1, 2024 2:16 p.m. 369

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