Slovakian prime minister Robert Fico shot and rushed to hospital

Slovakian prime minister Robert Fico shot and rushed to hospital

Slovakia’s prime minister Robert Fico has been injured in a shooting and rushed to hospital.

The incident took place in the town of Handlova, some 150 kilometres northeast of the capital Bratislava, after a government meeting.

TA3, a Slovakian TV station, has reported that the 59-year-old premier was hit in the stomach during the daylight attack.

A suspect has been detained, with dramatic images showing a man handcuffed on the ground.

The shooting occurred in front of the local House of Culture, where Mr Fico came to meet with supporters.

A person has been detained after the shooting (REUTERS)

A reporter for the daily newspaper Dennik N said they heard shooting and then saw rescuers carrying Mr Fico, a well-known ally of Russian president of Vladimir Putin, to a car.

“I was just going to shake his hand,” said a man, who witnessed the shooting and did not wish to be named. His wife added that she had heard three or four shots and said: “When the shots rang out, I almost became deaf.”

Deputy speaker of parliament Lubos Blaha confirmed the incident during a session of parliament and adjourned it until further notice.

President Zuzana Caputova condemned “a brutal and ruthless” attack on the premier.

“I’m shocked,” Ms Caputova said. “I wish Robert Fico a lot of strength in this critical moment and a quick recovery from this attack.”

Responding to the attack, Czech prime minister Petr Fiala said: “The news about the shooting Slovak prime minister Robert Fico is shocking.

“I wish the prime minister to get well as soon as possible. We must not tolerate violence, it must have no place in society.”

Fico returned to power and took over as prime minister for the fourth time after his scandal-tainted leftist Smer, or Direction, party won Slovakia’s parliamentary election at the end of September 2023 on a pro-Russian and anti-American platform.

Fico formed a parliamentary majority by signing a coalition government deal with the leftist Hlas, or Voice, party and the ultranationalist Slovak National Party.

Slovakia, a country of 5.5 million people that shares a border with Ukraine, had been – up to that point – a staunch supporter of Kyiv since Russia invaded in February 2022, donating arms and opening its borders for refugees fleeing the war.

Mr Fico stopped that military aid and he also opposes EU sanctions on Russia while wanting to block Ukraine from joining Nato.

During the election, Mr Fico vowed to pursue a “sovereign” foreign policy, promised a tough stance against migration and non-governmental organizations and campaigned against LGBTQ+ rights.

Known for his tirades against journalists, Mr Fico has previously labeled a major television network, two nationwide newspapers and an online news site his enemies and said he won’t communicate with them.

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