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Slovak PM Robert Fico Shot, wounded, In Life-Threatening Condition

A person is detained after shooting incident of Slovak PM Robert Fico, after a Slovak government meeting in Handlova, Slovakia, May 15, 2024. (photo credit: REUTERS/RADOVAN STOKLASA) via TJP

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, 59, has been reportedly shot and hit in the abdomen, after a gunman opened fire, following a government meeting in central Slovakia, Slovak news media reported on Wednesday.

Fico is in a life-threatening condition, the Slovak government office said in an emailed statement, adding that he was being transported by a helicopter to Banska Bystrica hospital.

A Reuters witness heard several shots fired after the meeting in Handlova northeast of the capital Bratislava. Police detained a man and security officials pushed someone into a car and drove off, the witness said.

An assasination attempt was carried out on Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, a Slovak interior ministry spokesperson confirmed to Reuters by telephone.

Fico was conscious when he was taken to a hospital in the town of Handlova and was treated for bullet wounds, a hospital spokesperson told Reuters by email.

The Reuters witness said he saw security officials pushing someone into a car and driving off.

The government office could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Slovak emergency service dispatched a helicopter to a 59-year-old man in Handlova after receiving information that he had been shot, it said in a post on Facebook, adding that the action was still underway.

Reactions and background to the shooting
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, condemned what she described as a vile attack on Fico.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was shocked to hear news of the attack on Fico.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the shooting of Fico, calling the attack “appalling.”

“Every effort should be made to ensure that violence does not become the norm in any country, form, or sphere,” he said on X.

“Shocked to hear this awful news. All our thoughts are with Prime Minister Fico and his family,” Sunak said on X.

The Slovak government was meeting in Handlova, 190 km (118 miles) northeast of Bratislava, as part of a tour of the country’s regions after coming to power late last year.

Fico returned as prime minister of the central European country, which is a member of the European Union and NATO, for the fourth time last year after shifting political gears to appeal to a changing electorate.

During a three-decade career, Fico has moved between the pro-European mainstream and nationalistic positions opposed to European Union and US policies. He has also shown a willingness to change course depending on public opinion or changed political realities.

Following the shooting, Slovakia’s biggest opposition party called off a planned protest against government public broadcaster reforms set for Wednesday evening. – TJP

Source: Agencies via TJP

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