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Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico shot after meeting

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Fico being taken to a car after the shooting (Credit: Pravda)

Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico is in critical condition after being shot in Handlova, according to officials and witnesses. The shooter was arrested and the prime minister was rushed to hospital for emergency treatment.

The attack happened just before 3 p.m. on Wednesday when the populist prime minister came out of a meeting at a cultural center and walked up to a crowd. Five shots were fired in quick succession, according to video of the incident.

A reporter said Fico fell to the ground and was lifted up by his security guards, who took him to his car before speeding away. He was driven to a local hospital before being airlifted to Banská Bystrica for further treatment.

“He was shot multiple times and is currently in life-threatening condition,” his office said in a statement at 4 p.m. “At this moment he is being taken by hospital to Banská Bystrica, because it would take too long to get to Bratislava given the necessity of emergency treatment. The next few hours will decide.”

At a briefing just before 8 p.m., Defense Minister Robert Kaliňák said Fico was undergoing surgery and that his condition remained “extremely serious.” He said the prime minister was fighting for his life but also expressed hope that he’d be able to overcome his injuries.

According to local media, the prime minister was shot multiple times, hitting him in the abdomen, hip and shoulder.

The suspect was immediately arrested at the scene of the shooting and later identified by local sources as 71-year-old Juraj Cintula. In a video taken after his arrest, and later shared on social media, Cintula said he carried out the attack because he’s opposed to the government’s policy.

Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová said she was “shocked” by what she described as a “brutal attack” on Fico. “I wish him lot of strength in this critical moment and early recovery,” she said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also condemned the attack. “Such acts of violence have no place in our society and undermine democracy, our most precious common good,” she said.

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