Thousands of people in Serbia participated in anti-gun protests last Monday following two devastating mass shootings the week before. On May 3, a 13-year-old schoolboy opened fire in a school, killing eight of his fellow students, according to AFP. Less than 24 hours later, a 21-year-old man killed eight and injured at least 13 more in a drive-by shooting.
Demonstrators called for the resignation of top government officials as well as more adequate safety protections and a ban on violent media content. Crowds gathered in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, and marched silently through the streets under a banner that read: “Serbia Against Violence.”
In an address to the nation, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić condemned the shootings, calling them an “attack on our entire country.” He pledged to remove all illegal and registered guns to “disarm” the country. On Sunday, Serbian authorities showcased some of the 13,000 weapons that were handed in after Vučić declared a one-month amnesty for citizens to hand in their weapons or face jail time.
Since 2007, six mass shootings have been recorded in Serbia. This could be linked to the country’s high gun ownership rates. According to data compiled by the Small Arms Survey, Serbia, tied with Montenegro, ranks third in the world for the number of civilian firearms owned by 100 residents. The two Balkan states follow Yemen and the U.S.
Here are four other international news stories you may have missed this week from Yahoo News’ partner network.
Caribbean leader says country will never be 'totally free' under King Charles
The prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis told the BBC last Monday that the Caribbean nation would not be “totally free” as long as King Charles III remains its head of state.
Dr. Terrance Drew said that he will open a public consultation on whether the two-island nation should become a republic. The prime minister also said he would welcome an apology from King Charles over the royal family’s historic links to slave trades that devastated generations of people from the islands. "I think that acknowledging that ... something wrong was done, acknowledging it and apologizing for it, is a step in the right direction," Drew told the BBC.
St. Kitts and Nevis is part of the British Commonwealth, a collection of former colonies stretching across the world, and one of 14 nations that have the British monarch as its head of state.
Pope Francis holds talks with Zelensky at Vatican
As reported by the Associated Press, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the Vatican to speak with Pope Francis on Saturday about a possible peace plan to end Russia’s war.
Following the private talks, Zelensky took to Twitter to praise the pontiff for “his personal attention to the tragedy of millions of Ukrainians.” He said the two spoke about the thousands of Ukrainian children that have been allegedly illegally deported to Russia — an accusation the United Nations has deemed a war crime. However, a statement from the Vatican avoided specifics and said instead they spoke about Ukraine’s “humanitarian and political situation provoked by the ongoing war."
Zelensky said he told the pope that the only peace plan that would work was the one proposed by Ukraine. In December, Kyiv officials published a 10-point peace plan that would see the restoration of Ukraine’s state borders with Russia and the release of all prisoners and deported children.
U.S. ambassador in South Africa apologizes over Russian arms deal
South Africa’s foreign ministry announced that the U.S. ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety, has apologized after claiming that the country had sold weapons to Russia, the BBC reported.
Brigety accused the South African government of loading a Russian ship with weapons in the capital of Cape Town last December, something he stated to be “fundamentally unacceptable.” In a news conference last week, Brigety said, “We are confident that weapons were loaded onto that vessel and I would bet my life on the accuracy of that assertion.”
However, South Africa’s foreign ministry said it had no record of the arms sale, and President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered an inquiry into the accusation. But on Friday, Brigety wrote on Twitter that he was “grateful for the opportunity to speak with Foreign Minister [Naledi] Pandor” and that he was happy to “correct any misimpressions left by my public remarks.”
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said he would not speak about the allegations but said it was a “serious issue” and that the U.S. would urge other countries against providing arms to Russia.
Italy’s birth rate continues to plunge
Italian Education Minister Giuseppe Valditara said on Thursday that the country’s school population will decrease by one million in the next 10 years — an “alarming” situation that is due to low birth rates and emigration, Reuters reported.
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has pledged to improve the birth rates in Italy by supporting parents through benefits. On Thursday, Pope Francis reiterated Meloni’s message and urged Italians to have more children and fewer pets. “Let us not resign ourselves to sterile dullness and pessimism,” the pontiff said. “Let us not believe that history is already marked, that nothing can be done to reverse the trend.” Italy’s fertility rate is one of the lowest in the world, with 1.24 children per woman.
The pope criticized Italy’s young population and told them to let go of “selfish, egotistical” ideals.