Shooting incident after Slovak government meeting in Handlova Shooting incident after Slovak government meeting in Handlova 

Slovakia's Prime Minister shot outside Bratislava

Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico has been shot and injured in an apparent assassination attempt outside the capital Bratislava. The motives of the gunman were not immediately clear, but the attack comes after a period of political turmoil in the Eastern European nation.

By Stefan J. Bos 

Footage showed a gunman being bundled to the ground after he apparently shot Slovakia's populist Prime Minister Robert Fico. Several civilian bystanders, as well as guards, detained the suspect, witnesses said.

As security forces tried to secure the area, Fico was rushed to hospital.

The incident occurred in the town of Handlova, some 150 kilometres or 94 miles northeast of the capital, Bratislava. He was shot soon after a government meeting while greeting crowds in front of a cultural community building where the meeting took place. Several shots were heard before his security detail pushed him into a nearby car.

A witness said that she heard three or four shots and saw Prime Minister Fico fall to the ground. She saw wounds to his head and chest. Two of the prime minister's guards quickly helped him and rushed him into a car. Local reports say he was then airlifted by helicopter to a nearby hospital.

In her initial reaction to the shooting, Slovakia's outgoing president, Zuzana Caputova, said she was shocked by the "brutal and ruthless" attack on the prime minister and wished him the strength to recover.

Fico, who is 59, returned to power in Slovakia after elections last September as the head of a populist-nationalist coalition with close ties to neighbouring Hungary.

His first few months as prime minister have proved highly contentious politically. In January, he halted military aid to Ukraine, and last month, he pushed through plans to abolish the public broadcaster RTVS.

While doctors tried to save his life, it wasn't clear yet how serious his injuries were.

Listen to the report by Stefan Bos

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15 May 2024, 17:34