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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Czech Republic observes national day of mourning for victims of deadliest mass shooting


PRAGUE – The Czech Republic stood​ still‍ at noon on Saturday to honor the victims ​of the worst mass killing in Czech history. ​The entire country observed a minute of silence ‍as part of a national day of mourning.

National‍ flags on public buildings ‌were lowered to half-staff and bells ‌tolled at noon. A Mass at St. Vitus cathedral in Prague, the biggest in the country, was celebrated for the victims. President Petr Pavel and speakers of both houses of‌ Parliament attended the ‌service‌ that was open to everyone.

“We’re ⁤all still in a shock in our own ‍ways,” Prague archbishop Jan Graubner said. “We need to clearly condemn what​ happened but we also need ⁢to look into the future.”

“Nobody should be left alone in these tough moments,” Charles University​ rector Milena ⁤Kralickova said in her remarks toward ⁣the end of the Mass. The shooting inside the university’s Faculty of Arts​ on Thursday killed 14 people.

Similar religious services were held in other cities and towns,⁢ while Christmas markets⁣ in a number of places were closed or reduced their programs ⁤amid boosted security measures.

The shooting in the ⁢university at the heart of the‍ Czech capital also ‌wounded 25 people before ‌the gunman killed himself. Police and prosecutors said they have evidence‌ the 24-year-old shooter also killed his father ‌earlier ‍in⁣ the day and a man⁣ and a‍ baby in Prague last⁣ week.

A sea of candles was shining at an‌ impromptu memorial for the victims created in front of the university headquarters.

“It’s been a horrible experience for us ‌all but it‌ still can’t⁣ be compared with what the​ victims had to experience at the time of the attack and what their dear ones have to experience now,” said⁤ Milos Vystrcil, speaker of Parliament’s upper house, the Senate, one of those who came to light a candle.

“I think that to help them at this point we express our support and‌ that’s what we’re all doing now.”

The names ⁢of ⁤the 14 people​ who died are slowly being released.​ The ​university confirmed two staff members were among them, including​ the head of the Institute of⁤ Music Sciences, Lenka Hlávková. First-year student Lucie⁢ Spindlerova was another,​ said ⁢the Lidove noviny daily,​ where she also⁤ worked.

The shooter was Czech and a student at the‌ Faculty of Arts. Investigators do not suspect a link to any extremist ​ideology or groups. Officials said they believed ​he acted alone. His​ motive is not yet clear.

Previously, the nation’s worst mass shooting‍ was in 2015, when a gunman ⁢opened ‌fire in the southeastern town of Uhersky Brod, killing eight before fatally shooting himself.

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  1. Disagree. It’s important to honor and remember the victims of such tragedies, but relying solely on a national day of mourning doesn’t address the root causes of these mass shootings.

  2. Disagree. While it’s important to honor the victims, a national day of mourning is not enough to prevent future mass shootings. Action and change are needed to address the root causes and ensure safety for all.


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