Slovakia: PM Robert Fico shot, in ‘life threatening condition

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Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico is in a “life-threatening condition” in hospital after being shot five times in what his office has called an “assassination attempt.”

“Today, after the government meeting in Handlova, there was an assassination attempt on the Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, Robert Fico,” the government said.

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Local broadcaster TA3 reported that five shots were fired in the central Slovakian town, at least one hitting Prime Minister Fico in the stomach.

Video footage from the scene showed Fico’s bodyguards dragging him into his car and police officers pinning an apparent suspect down.

Handlova hospital director Marta Eckhardtova told the AFP news agency:  “Mr. Fico was brought into our hospital and he was treated at our vascular surgery clinic.”

Officials initially said that Prime Minister Fico was being transferred to the capital, Bratislava, before his office said he was being taken to another hospital in the nearby city of Banska.

“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,” Fico’s office said.

A message posted to Fico’s personal Facebook account said that the leader “has been shot multiple times” and added: “The next few hours will decide.”

Later on Wednesday evening, Slovak Defense Minister Robert Kalinak, a close party ally of Fico, told reporters that doctors were still operating on the Prime Minister and “fighting for his life.” He described Fico’s condition as “extremely serious.”

Interior minister Matus Sutaj Estok said authorities suspected a “political motive.”

What do we know about the shooting?

The shooting ocurred in Handlova, a small town about 150 kilometers (93 miles) northeast of Bratislava.

It occured in front of the local “House of Culture” where populist leader Fico had been meeting supporters just three weeks ahead of crucial European Parliament elections.

“Just as I was about to shake his hand, I heared four shots and Robert fell to the ground,” one eye-witness told local public broadcaster RTVS. “It was horrible, they were shots from behind.”

DW

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