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Monday May 27, 2024

Slovak PM critical after being 'shot in abdomen'

Premier was lifted into a car by security guards, reports local media

By AFP
May 15, 2024

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was hospitalised for life-threatening injuries Wednesday after being shot following a cabinet meeting in the central town of Handlova, local media reported.

The Dennik N daily, whose reporter saw the premier being lifted into a car by security guards, noted that the suspected gunman had been detained by police.

The populist leader was injured as reports indicate the firing of several gunshots. The 59-year-old was hit in the abdomen.

"There was an assassination attempt on R. Fico. He was shot multiple times and is currently in a life-threatening condition. The next few hours will be decisive," a statement from Fico's Facebook page read.

It also added: "The PM was taken there instead of the capital city of Bratislava because an acute intervention was necessary." 

Zuzana Čaputová, Slovakia’s president, condemned the "brutal attack on the prime minister."

A witness from Reuters said: "Police detained a man and security officials pushed someone into a car and drove off."

Parliamentary vice-chairman Lubos Blaha was quoted by the TASR agency as saying: "Fico had been shot and hurt."

Authorities said a helicopter had been sent for PM in Handlova after receiving information of multiple shots fired at the premier.

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen also condemned Wednesday's attack calling it "a vile attack on Fico".

The Slovak government was meeting in Handlova — 190 km (118 miles) northeast of Bratislava — under the plan of touring different regions of the Central European country after assuming power in 2023.

Fico became PM of NATO and EU member for the fourth time last year.

During a three-decade career, Fico moved between the pro-European mainstream and nationalistic positions opposed to EU and American policies.