A gunman has killed five people and wounded at least 20 others when he opened fire with an automatic weapon in a cafe in northern Serbia.

The attack occurred at 1:40am local time on Saturday in a village close to the town of Zrenjanin, about 50 kilometres northwest of Belgrade.

A police statement says a man identified only as ZS first killed his wife and another woman before randomly shooting at other occupants of the cafe.

Witnesses told Serbia’s state TV the attacker came to the cafe and saw his wife there with a group of friends. He then went home and came back with a gun.

‘He just pulled out a gun and started shooting, first into the air,’ said Svetozar Manojlovic, one of the witnesses.

‘It sounded like firecrackers at first,’ he said. ‘Then the guy next to me fell down and others started falling down. It was total chaos.’

Serbia’s Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said the cafe patrons eventually managed to grab the weapon from the man’s hands when he tried to run away.

Police in the vicinity arrived swiftly and caught the suspect, Stefanovic said.

He said the probable motive was jealousy.

Stefanovic said the automatic weapon was illegal. He appealed to citizens to hand over illegal weapons that many people have following the wars in the Balkans in the 1990s.

‘This was completely unexpected,’ Stefanovic said, speaking in front of the Makijato cafe.

‘There were no signs at all, people tell us that he was completely calm and normal,’ he said.

The wounded were taken to hospitals in nearby Zrenjanin and Novi Sad. Doctors in Zrenjanin said seven people underwent surgery and were in serious condition.

AP

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A gunman has killed five people and wounded at least 20 others when he opened fire with an automatic weapon in a cafe in northern Serbia. The attack occurred at 1:40am local time on Saturday in a village close to the town of Zrenjanin, about 50 kilometres northwest of Belgrade. A...