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Slovakia: Prime minister Robert Fico in critical condition after being shot

Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico was hospitalised on Wednesday after he was shot five times in an assassination attempt at an off-site government meeting in the central Slovak town of Handlova.

The suspected gunman was among a small crowd of people waiting to greet the prime minister on the street outside the cultural centre, where the meeting took place, local media reported. Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová stated the suspected gunman was arrested by local police.

Footage shows the injured prime minister taken into a vehicle by his staff. Prime Minister Fico was urgently taken to a local hospital and then transferred by helicopter to a major trauma centre about 20 miles (30 kilometres) away in Banska Bystrica. Officials reported no one else was injured in the attack.

Slovakian deputy Prime Minister Tomáš Taraba said he believed the prime minister would survive following surgery that “went well” and was “not in a life-threatening situation at this moment.”

Both the country’s Defense Minister Robert Kaliňák and Interior Minister Matúš Šutaj Eštok called the shooting “politically motivated,” with Šutaj Eštok saying that “the suspect made the decision to do it shortly after the presidential election.”

Slovakia’s defence and interior ministers blamed rising hate speech and division for the political atmosphere in the country, which they said led to the assassination attempt.

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