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Slovakia’s Prime Minister Fico shot, in ‘life-threatening condition’

Slovak PM Fico shot and wounded, Slovak media report

HANDLOVA, Slovakia — Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot and wounded in the abdomen after a government meeting on Wednesday.

In an emailed statement the Slovak government office said Fico is in a life-threatening condition and that he was being transported by a helicopter to Banska Bystrica hospital.

A Reuters witness heard several shots fired after the meeting in Handlova northeast of the capital Bratislava. Police detained a man and security officials pushed someone into a car and drove off, the witness said.

Slovak news agency TASR quoted parliamentary vice-chairman Lubos Blaha as saying Fico had been shot and hurt. Broadcaster TA3 reported four shots were fired, one hitting Fico, 59, in the abdomen.

Emergency services said a helicopter had been sent for a 59-year-old man in Handlova after receiving information that he had been shot.

The government office could not immediately be reached for comment.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, condemned what she described as a vile attack on Fico.

The Slovak government was meeting in Handlova, 190 km (118 miles) northeast of Bratislava, as part of a tour of the country's regions after coming to power late last year.

Fico returned as prime minister of the central European country, which is a member of the European Union and NATO, for the fourth time last year after shifting political gears to appeal to a changing electorate.

During a three-decade career, Fico has moved between the pro-European mainstream and nationalistic positions opposed to European Union and US policies. He has also shown a willingness to change course depending on public opinion or changed political realities.

Following the shooting, Slovakia's biggest opposition party called off a planned protest against government public broadcaster reforms set for Wednesday evening. — Reuters