20240629 serbia
Police officers guard the area after an attack, near the Israeli embassy in Belgrade, Serbia. Image Credit: Reuters

Belgrade: An attacker who fired a crossbow at a police officer guarding the Israeli embassy in Belgrade was shot and killed on Saturday in what Interior Minister Ivica Dacic called a terrorist attack against Serbia.

The policeman is in a life-threatening condition and is undergoing surgery, Serbian news agency Tanjug quoted Dacic as saying. No embassy employees were wounded, the Israeli foreign ministry said.

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Dacic said the police officer who was attacked was hit in the neck with an arrow and fired several shots at the attacker, killing him.

"This is a terrorist attack against Serbia," he said in the statement carried by Tanjug.

He said that several people believed to have been linked to the incident had been arrested.

"There are some indications that they (those arrested) are already known to security services and we are talking about the Wahhabi organisation, but that is not confirmed," Dacic said, referring to a strict school of Islam.

Israel's foreign ministry said that there had been "an attempted terrorist attack in the vicinity of the Israeli embassy in Belgrade".

"The embassy is closed and no employee of the embassy was injured. The circumstances of the incident are being investigated," its statement said.

Israel-linked institutions around the world have been on high alert for attacks and protests since Israel launched its war to eliminate Hamas in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, after the Islamist militant group led deadly attacks on southern Israel on Oct. 7, 2023.

The police officer was in a guard house and the attacker had approached him several times asking him where a museum was. He carried a bag from which at one point he took the crossbow and shot the guard, Dacic said.

Police investigators in white forensic suits surrounded the body of the suspect on the street outside the building, which was swarmed with police vehicles.