Slovakian PM Robert Fico 'will survive' after being shot at five times in 'politically motivated' assassination attempt

16 May 2024, 05:49

Slovakian PM Robert Fico's 'life is no longer at risk' after he was shot at five times
Slovakian PM Robert Fico's 'life is no longer at risk' after he was shot at five times. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

The life of Slovakia's Prime Minister is no longer at risk after he underwent hours of surgery following a shooting, his deputy has said.

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Robert Fico was in surgery for several hours after he was shot at five times earlier on Wednesday afternoon, with concerns that he could die.

But early on Thursday morning, the country's deputy prime minister Tomas Taraba said of Mr Fico: "I guess in the end he will survive.

"He's not in a life threatening situation at this moment."

Robert Fico is rushed to hospital after being shot in the stomach
Robert Fico is rushed to hospital after being shot in the stomach. Picture: Alamy

Mr Fico was shot in the stomach and arm by a '71-year-old assassin' who was bundled to the ground by cops as he attempted to flee.

The populist politician, 59, was shot in Handlova, north-east of Bratislava, after going to meet supporters following a Slovak government meeting.

Authorities believe the alleged attack was "politically motivated".

Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico, speaks with people before the cabinet's away-from-home session in the town of Handlova, Slovakia. Later he was shot
Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico, speaks with people before the cabinet's away-from-home session in the town of Handlova, Slovakia. Later he was shot. Picture: Alamy

Eyewitnesses said shots were fired in front of the House of Culture, before a man was quickly pounced upon and detained by security officials.

Slovak President Zuzana Caputova told reporters on Wednesday that the shooting of Mr Fico represents an "attack on democracy".

Police arrest a man after Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot and injured following the cabinet's away-from-home session in the town of Handlova, Slovakia
Police arrest a man after Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot and injured following the cabinet's away-from-home session in the town of Handlova, Slovakia. Picture: Alamy

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Slovakian news site Dennik, reported that that Fico had left the building to greet people who had gathered to catch a glimpse of him before "several shots were fired". 

He then Fico reportedly fell to the ground, where the witness claimed he had wounds to his head and chest.

Robert Fico arriving for the cabinet meeting. He was shot coming out at the end
Robert Fico arriving for the cabinet meeting. He was shot coming out at the end. Picture: Alamy

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

She added: "I'm shocked. I wish Robert Fico a lot of strength in this critical moment and a quick recovery from this attack."

Rishi Sunak tweeted: "Shocked to hear this awful news. All our thoughts are with Prime Minister Fico and his family."

Joe Biden condemned the 'heinous' attempt on Mr Fico's life, adding: “Our embassy is in close touch with the government of Slovakia and ready to assist.”

Hungarian PM Viktor Orban said on X (formerly Twitter): "I was deeply shocked by the heinous attack against my friend, Prime Minister Robert Fico. We pray for his health and quick recovery! God bless him and his country."

Slovakian PM bundled into car after being shot

Shocked to hear this awful news. All our thoughts are with Prime Minister Fico and his family."

Peter Pellegrini, Slovakia's president-elect and an ally of Robert Fico, said that "an assassination attempt on the Prime Minister is a threat to everything that has adorned Slovak democracy so far.

"I am horrified by where the hatred towards another political opinion can lead. 

"We don't have to agree on everything, but there are plenty of ways to express our disagreement democratically and legally," he added.

The head of the liberal political party Progressive Slovakia, Michala Šimeček, said: "We unequivocally and strongly condemn any violence. We trust that Prime Minister Fico will be fine and that this terrible act will be brought to light as soon as possible."

Mr Fico is part of the Direction – Social Democracy party, which he founded in 1999.He resigned in 2018 amid public outcry over the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak.

Kuciak’s death, which implicated high-level corruption, sparked nationwide protests.

Mr Fico returned to power in Slovakia after elections last September, at the head of a populist-nationalist coalition.

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