Uherský Brod: At least nine people have been killed and another seriously injured after a gunman opened fire at a restaurant in the Czech Republic, before turning his gun on himself, police have said.
The shooting, believed to be the worst in the young country’s peacetime history, took place in the Druzhba restaurant in Uherský Brod, a town of 17,000 people which lies 180 miles southeast of Prague.
Czech Television said the attacker fired about 25 rounds. At least 20 people are believed to have been in the restaurant at the time of the attack, which took place around lunchtime.
A woman working as a waitress at the restaurant is in a “very serious” condition after she was shot in the chest during the incident, according to a spokesman for the hospital where she is being treated in the nearby town of Uherský Hradiste.
Spokesman Dana Lipovska added the woman had undergone hour-long surgery at the facility to treat her wounds.
Patrik Kuncar, mayor of Uherský Brod, told Czech television that the shooter was a 60-year-old local man, who many have been “mentally unstable”.
Interior Minister Milan Chovanec, who rushed to the scene by helicopter, said the man had a gun license, and confirmed that the shooting was “not a terrorist attack.”
The victims have been identified and were all from the region, Chovanec later said.
A man who was in the restaurant during the shooting said he believed his life was spared because he was in the bathroom when the gunman entered the building.
“That saved my life,” Petr Gabriel told Czech public television, adding that he spent two hours in the bathroom before police found him.
Before he launched the deadly attack, the gunman called a national television station and claimed that police were not solving his problems, and threatened to ”take things into his hands.“
By nightfall, mourners placed candles at the scene of the shooting, as a mark of respect for the victims.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel sent a telegram expressing her condolences to the Czech prime minister.
“It is with great distress that I found out about the horrible attack in Uhersky Brod, which killed many people,” the chancellor wrote.
“It fills me with deep sadness if people become victims of random violence. I’m convinced that the people of Uhersky Brod and of the entire Czech Republic will react with great solidarity to this tragic event.”
Such incidents are very rare in the Czech Republic where strict gun controls are imposed.
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