Police say attack on gov't headquarters has elements of terrorist act

NEWS 18.10.2020 11:01
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Source: N1

Police and the Zagreb County Prosecutor's Office said on Saturday that the armed attack on the government building which occurred on Monday was attempted murder of three police officers, confirming that it had elements of a terrorist act.

Police showed reporters security camera footage of the attack, which shows 22-year-old assailant Danijel Bezuk firing a certain amount of ammunition in St. Mark’s Square, changing the clip on his weapon as he was walking, after which he fired a few more bullets and then aborted the attack after one of the police officers guarding the government building fired back.

Apart from the lives of the three police officers, one of whom was seriously wounded, also in danger were the lives of other people, said police.

Police Director Nikola Milina and Zagreb County Prosecutor Jurica Ilic confirmed the crime had elements of terrorism.

For the time being the crime is still not being treated as a crime against humanity and we need to wait for the findings of the investigation, Milina said.

Ilic said that prosecutors and police would continue conducting measures with regard to other persons and events that could be linked with the incident in St. Mark’s Square.

Milina said police were gathering information about the attacker as well as all persons who had been in contact with him.

He expressed condolences to the family of the assailant who after the incident committed suicide but warned that the information collected so far showed that radicalisation could have influenced his conduct.

Warning about the appearance of various types of threatening behaviour in society, he said that police were doing their best to prevent such conduct and protect all citizens, including political officials. 

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Croatia is a safe country and police and all the other services and prosecutorial authorities are working to keep the highest possible level of public security, he said.

Milina pointed to the widespread availability of weapons, noting that from 12 to 16 October police recorded 83 voluntary handovers of weapons and explosive devices, including 12 machine guns, four semi-automatic firearms, two pistols, 53 hand grenades and close to a kilogram of explosive.

Commenting on criticism that the security of senior office-holders in St. Mark’s Square was not adequate, Milina said security measures had been stepped up but that the police officers’ response to the attack showed that the regime in force until now was functioning.

Police have determined, rather precisely even though not entirely, the route of the attacker’s movement.

The attack was very fast and sudden, the motive is still being established, Milina said, adding that for the time being he could neither confirm not rule out that the attacker wanted to enter the government building.

As for media reports that before the attack the assailant looked for information on the web on the movement of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and President Zoran Milanovic, Milina said that those reports did not fully correspond with the facts established by the police.

He said the recording of the attack was shown because of different interpretations and information which made most people believe only one police officer had been attacked.