By Valerie Hopkins and Eldin Hadzovic
Mevlid Jasarevic, a 23 year old from Novi Pazar, Serbia fired shots at the US embassy in Sarajevo. Police told Balkan Insight that one security guard was injured, shot in the legs and the gunman was wounded but alive.
Sources from the general hospital in Sarajevo have said that the gunman has been brought to the hospital.
Jasarevic shot an automatic rifle multiple times at the US Embassy from the tram station across the road, in the Marijn Dvor district of the city. One security guard was injured, shot in the legs and was taken to surgery to the general hospital in Sarajevo.
Police sources have told Balkan Insight that the assailant was shot in the leg. He was taken to the hospital and is under arrest. The scene of the shooting is still cordoned off by the police while the interior ministry of the Sarajevo Canton, the federal police and the state agency for investigation and protection, SIPA are collecting evidence.
Traffic has been halted outside of the US Embassy to Bosnia and Herzegovina because of the shooting.
About a hundred people are milling around the police line, unable to return to their apartments in the blocked off area around the US embassy.
An eyewitness, Smail Zilic, who was driving by the embassy at the time of the shooting, told Balkan Insight that the man paced back and forth in front of the embassy for five minutes, screaming “Bring me an American, I want an American”
He said a sniper fired at the assailant twice, wounding him the second time in the leg.
According to Zilic, the gunman was clearly not a Bosnian, although he spoke the language perfectly, albeit with ekavica, a regional dialect found in Serbia.
Zlic said he fired five shots.
“This has nothing to do with religion,” said Zilic. “This man is clearly insane. He came here to die. He made no attempt to flee the scene, he wanted to be a martyr. But he is just crazy.”
“God help us all,” said Adi Hadzic, another Sarajevan. “We don’t need a terrorist attack like this in our city.”
“I heard noise for almost a minute,” said Will Richard, an American citizen who works in the nearby UNITIC towers. “It sounded like rapid fire, but thought it was just part of the construction projects in the area.”
Officials Condemn “Terrorist Attack”
Bakir Izetbegovic, member of the Bosnia presidency condemned the attack on the US embassy in Sarajevo. “I expect a swift and decisive investigation into this event”, Izetbegovic said.
“Shooting at the US embassy is shooting at a friend of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said Haris Silajdzic.
Nermin Niksic, Prime Minister of Bosnia’s Federation said the act was an attack against peace in the country. “The United States have proven countless times by now to be Bosnia’s friends, and the government of the Federation is convinced that this cowardly act cannot endanger our friendly relations, as well as the relations between the people of Bosnia’s and the US”.
Denis Becirovic, Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina said that today’s terrorist act in Sarajevo deserves the sharpest condemnation and quick action of the state’s security services in order to uncover all the perpetrators and their motives.
“This attack reminds us in the cruelest fashion that we shouldn’t give up in the fight against terrorists and extremists”, Becirovic said.
The Prime Minister of Sarajevo canton Fikret Music called a special session of the local government’s parliamentary body condemning the terrorist attack.
“Due to these unfortunate events I have called an emergency session of the Canton Sarajevo Assembly. The government is condemning this terrorist attack against the US embassy and the citizens of the Sarajevo Canton.
“We will provide full support to the relevant authorities to combat all kind of terrorist activities and pursue investigative processes with regards to this case. The government also expresses its objection to this ideology and to its supporters, emphasizing that there will be no room for such activities in Sarajevo in the future.”
“We are shocked by this attack that reminded us of the horrible times this city was exposed to not so long ago. I call on all the citizens of Sarajevo to remain calm. We assure you that the government will do everything to dispell fear and restlessness among our citizens.”
So far, Bosnia’s state court has processed three cases of terrorism attacks in the country.
Jasarevic and another suspected wahabbi have been reportedly detained by police in Novi Pazar in November 2010 during a visit of ten ambassadors in the town. Jasarevic and the other man were detained and questioned by police as potentially dangerous for the diplomats.