Five Roma among seven dead in gunman's random attack at flats

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The Independent Online

A gunman went on a rampage in Slovakian capital, Bratislava, yesterday, killing seven and wounding 15 others before committing suicide.

Five of the dead were members of one Roma family who lived in a flat where the man began his attack with a machine gun and two pistols. Roma gypsies often face discrimination in eastern Europe but the Interior minister, Dusan Lipsic, and local police said the unidentified gunman's motive was not known.

Another man who was shot and killed outside the apartment block was probably a member of the same family, Mr Lipsic said. "I will not speculate whether it did or did not have a racial motive. I doubt it, but of course the investigation is ongoing," he added.

The shooting took place in the run-down neighbourhood Devinska Nova Ves, on the outskirts of the city, which is surrounded by fields and industrial estates. The five Roma who died – four women and a man – lived in a flat in the brown high-rise block. Police rushed to the scene as the attacker, aged about 50, was leaving.

He fired indiscriminately at people in the area, wounding 15, including a policeman and a three-year-old boy who was shot in the ear. The seventh fatality was a woman who walked to the balcony of her flat when she heard gunfire. Health officials later said that three of the wounded were in a critical condition.