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Slovak shooter 'angry over noise'

Anger over loud neighbours may have caused a heavily armed man to kill seven people before committing suicide in a rampage that has shocked Slovakia, authorities suggested.

But with six of the dead - including a 12-year-old boy - identified as Roma, or Gypsies, officials on Tuesday also left open the possibility that Monday's bloodbath on the outskirts of Bratislava, the Slovak capital, was racially motivated. Roma face widespread discrimination across Europe.

"We are looking into all motives," Interior Minister Daniel Lipsic told reporters at a news conference.

He identified the attacker, who used a machine gun and two pistols to target his victims, as 48-year-old Lubomir Harman.

Police Chief Jaroslav Spisiak, speaking alongside Lipsic, said some of the deceased lived in the same building as Harman and "had a rich social life" that included having many visitors over to their apartment in the run-down neighbourhood of Devinska Nova Ves.

Harman, who had been unemployed since August 2008, was single, legally owned six weapons and was a member of a "soldiers-in-reserve" club, Spisiak said. Considered to be from a good family, he served in the military between 1981 and 1983 but was never a professional soldier, authorities said.

A suspicious package found on Tuesday near the killing site turned out to be harmless, police said. Specialists were called to the scene but determined that the package - initially described as a box under a car - did not contain a bomb and turned out to be an old radio, according to Bratislava police official Csaba Farago.

Monday's shooting rampage, which also wounded 15 people, has shaken Slovakia. A special government session dedicated to the attack took place on Tuesday afternoon and a requiem in commemoration of those who died was to be held on Wednesday afternoon in St Martin's Cathedral in Bratislava. Prime Minister Iveta Radicova has declared Thursday a national day of mourning.

Eight of those wounded remained hospitalised on Tuesday, with two, including a 33-year-old Czech man, in very serious condition, said Rut Gerzova, a spokeswoman for Bratislava's University Hospital.

A policeman who was badly hurt has improved and started talking with doctors, she added.

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