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Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico shot multiple times; attacker held
Photo courtesy: Video grab

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico shot multiple times; attacker held

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 15 May 2024, 09:15 pm

Handlova (Slovakia): Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot multiple times and rushed to a hospital with gruesome injuries on Wednesday after a cabinet meeting, media reported citing officials.

The attack has been condemned by EU leaders. Fico, a populist leader accused of having pro-Kremlin leanings, was elected the prime minister of the country last year.

"Today, after the government meeting in Handlova, there was an assassination attempt on the Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, Robert Fico," AFP reported, quoting government officials.

"He is currently being transported by helicopter to Banska Bystrica in a life-threatening condition, because it would take too long to get to Bratislava due to the necessity of an acute intervention," it said.

According to media reports, police nabbed the shooter immediately.

Fico was attacked with multiple bullets, according to a post on his official Facebook page.

"We confirm the attack on the prime minister," police spokesman Matej Neumann told AFP.

Reports indicate that Slovak PM Robert Fico was greeting people in front of a cultural community centre in the central town of Handlova when several shots were fired from the crowd, reported BBC.

Handlova is located about 180 km (112 miles) northeast of the capital, Bratislava.

According to local reports, Fico was initially airlifted by helicopter to a nearby hospital and was later transferred to another hospital in Banska Bystrica, east of Handlova.

According to the report, Handlova local hospital director Marta Eckhardtova said, "Fico was brought into our hospital and he was treated at our vascular surgery clinic".

She could not explain the extent of his injuries.

The daily newspaper Dennik N reported that one of its reporters heard several shots and then saw security guards lift the prime minister off the ground and into a car. The newspaper also mentioned that police had detained the suspected gunman.

Local reports say Fico was shot in the abdomen, arm, and leg. Pictures show police detaining a suspect.

According to BBC, President-elect and Fico ally Peter Pellegrini said he was "horrified" to hear that Fico was "the target of an assassination attempt".

"I am horrified at where hatred for a different political opinion can lead. We don't have to agree with everything, but there are many ways to express your disagreement democratically and legally," he said.

Condemning the attack, he said that differences in political opinions should be voiced in polling stations and not with guns.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala also called the news of the attack "shocking".

"I hope the prime minister will get well as soon as possible. We must not tolerate violence, it must have no place in society," he said on X.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said: "Robert, my thoughts are with you in this very difficult moment".

Fico previously led the government from 2006 to 2010 and again from 2012 to 2018.

Since his election last October, Fico has made a series of remarks that have strained relations between Slovakia and neighbouring Ukraine.

He has questioned Ukraine's sovereignty and called for compromise with Russia.

His has also sparked mass protests with controversial changes, including a media law that critics claim will undermine the impartiality of public television and radio.

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