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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 September, 2004, 06:11 GMT 07:11 UK
Argentine boy shoots classmates
Firemen remove the body of a student from the school in Carmen de Patagones
Three teenagers died at the scene
A 15-year-old boy has opened fire in a classroom in southern Argentina, killing three fellow students and wounding five others.

The shooting happened before the start of class at a school in Carmen de Patagones, 620 miles (1,000km) south of Buenos Aires.

Witnesses said the boy entered the classroom and began to shoot using a 9mm pistol.

Police arrested the boy and took him for questioning.

Two girls and a boy, aged between 15 and 16, died at the scene. Authorities originally said another girl had died but later issued a correction.

Correspondents say the incident sparked debate on national television about rising violence in schools in Argentina, which is considered one of the safest countries in South America.

No warning

The teenager entered the room at the Islas Malvinas state school without saying a word, witnesses told police.

The boy pulled the weapon out from under his clothes and began to shoot
Eduardo Diego
Local police chief
"There was no kind of aggression nor verbal warning," local police chief Eduardo Diego said on television.

"The boy pulled the weapon out from under his clothes and began to shoot."

Witnesses said the boy, nicknamed "Junior", aimed first at the walls, as students hid beneath desks.

'Timid boy'

Students outside the classroom said they thought they heard firecrackers going off.

"We heard gunfire and a lot of screaming and then everyone coming out into the hallway," a teenage boy was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

"We saw three bodies on the ground with bullet wounds."

The youth is said to be the son of a coast guard officer. He is believed to have used his father's handgun.

The suspect had no history of violence, officials said.

"He was a timid boy, who was having difficulty integrating, but he never displayed any violent attitudes," a local education official said.

He was transferred to detention in the nearby city of Bahia Blanca.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Eyewitnesses tell of shock as the shooting began



SEE ALSO:
Big rise in Argentine kidnappings
20 Jun 04  |  Americas
Country profile: Argentina
03 Jul 04  |  Country profiles


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