BELGRADE – Serbian police evacuated Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and his family to a “safe location” Saturday after discovering a large weapons cache near the family home outside Belgrade.
Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said the cache was found in a trunk in bushes near a crossroads where Vucic’s motorcade normally slows down while heading toward his home. He said the stash included a sniper rifle, an anti-tank rocket, ammunition and hand grenades.
No arrests were reported by late Saturday as authorities scrambled to develop leads in the case.
Stefanovic described the location as an “ideal” site for an assassination attempt and told reporters the weaponry was first reported by a tipster. He declined to say where prime minister was when the weapons were discovered, but he stressed late Saturday that Vucic and his family were safe.
In 2003, then-Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic was gunned down by a sniper outside government headquarters in central Belgrade. Djindjic was the first democratically elected head of government in Serbia since the ouster in 2000 of nationalist leader Slobodan Milosevic, who later died in prison while on trial for war crimes.
Vucic, himself a former ultranationalist during the Balkan wars of the 1990s, has since become a pro-European Union reformer, but he was a strong political opponent of Djindjic at the time of his assassination.
Hundreds of thousands of wartime weapons have remained in private hands since fighting subsided, and authorities say many of those arms are now in the possession of criminal organizations.