3 foreign nationals are among the wounded in a Prague university shooting that saw 14 killed

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UNB, PRAGUE :

Three foreign nationals were among 25 wounded after a student opened fire at a university in the Czech capital, Prague, killing 14 people, authorities said Friday. The mass shooting was one of the Czech Republic’s worst attacks in recent years.

Minister Vit Rakusan said police in Prague worked overnight and 13 of those killed have been identified. He also said three of those wounded were foreigners — two from Saudi Arabia and one from the Netherlands.

The bloodshed took place on Thursday at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University, where the 24-year-old shooter was a student, Prague Police Chief Martin Vondrasek said. The gunman also died, authorities said. His name has not been released.

Authorities warned that the death toll could rise.

Early Friday, with the scene of the shooting still sealed off by the police, people could be seen lighting candles to mourn the victims at an impromptu vigil by the university headquarters.

Police said Friday they have boosted security at schools and other “soft targets” — usually public facilities that are difficult to secure — in a preventive measure. University rectors also said they would work with police experts on more preventive measures to increase security around campus.

Police have so far given no details about the victims or a possible motive for the shooting at the building located near the Vltava River in Jan Palach Square. Rakusan said Thursday that investigators didn’t suspect a link to any extremist ideology or groups.

Officials said they believed he had no accomplice.

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Vondrasek, the police chief, said they believe the gunman killed his father earlier on Thursday in his hometown of Hostoun, just west of Prague, and that he had also been planning to kill himself. He also said the gunman was suspected of killing a man and his 2-month-old daughter on Dec. 15, in Prague.

The chief described the shooter as an excellent student with no criminal record. He said the gunman suffered “devastating injuries” but it was not clear if he killed himself or was shot and killed by the police in an exchange of fire.

Police said the shooter had legally owned several guns — based on his home search — and that he was heavily armed during the attack.

Charles Univeristy issued a statement earlier mourning “the loss of life.”

Leaders from many countries, including the United States, and the U.N Secretary-General conveyed their condolences.

The Czech government declared Saturday a national day of mourning to honor the victims.

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.

The building where the shooting took place is in Jan Palach Square, a busy tourist area in Prague’s Old Town. It is just a few minutes’ walk from the picturesque Old Town Square, a major tourist attraction where a popular Christmas market attracts thousands of visitors.