Crossbow attacker killed near Israeli embassy in Serbia

An attacker who fired a crossbow at a police officer guarding the Israeli embassy in Belgrade has been shot dead in what President Aleksandar Vucic called a terrorist attack against Serbia.

No embassy staff were wounded in the attack, the Israeli foreign ministry said, and the policeman was in a stable condition in hospital following surgery to remove an arrow from his neck, Vucic said.

Vucic named the attacker as Salahudin Zujovic, a man from central Serbia who had converted to Islam from Serbian Orthodox Christianity, and said he had worked with an accomplice who remained at large.

"We are looking for another person," Vucic told reporters after visiting the wounded policeman.

"We will secure all diplomatic missions and also guarantee safety and security."

The pair were being tracked by Serbian security agencies prior to Saturday's attack but there was not enough evidence to detain them, Vucic added.

Earlier in the day, interior minister Ivica Dacic said the policeman who was attacked had fired several shots at the assailant, killing him.

Israeli embassy in Belgrade
Serbian authorities say an attacker worked with an accomplice who remains at large. (EPA PHOTO)

He said a number of people had been arrested on suspicion of being connected to the attack and investigators were looking into possible links with followers of the puritanical Sunni Muslim Wahhabi sect.

Israel's foreign ministry said there had been "an attempted terrorist attack in the vicinity of the Israeli embassy in Belgrade".

"The embassy is closed and no employee of the embassy was injured. The circumstances of the incident are being investigated," it said in a statement.

Israel-linked institutions around the world have been on high alert for attacks and protests since Israel launched its war to eliminate Hamas in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, after the Islamist militant group led deadly attacks on southern Israel on October 7, 2023.

The police officer was in a guard house and the attacker had approached him several times asking him where a museum was, before taking the crossbow from a bag and firing it at him, Dacic said.

Police investigators in white forensic suits surrounded the attacker's body outside the building, which was swarmed with police vehicles.

In 2009, a Serbian court sentenced four Muslims who were followers of the Wahhabi sect to prison for plotting to attack a football stadium in a southwestern Serbian town where the majority of the population are moderate Muslims.