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Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico is undergoing surgery after being shot five times Wednesday in an assassination attempt, according to officials.

The gunman is in custody and no one else was injured in the attack, they said.

Fico won a third term as Slovakian prime minister last October after running a campaign that criticized Western support for Ukraine.

Here’s what we know:


What happened: The shooting took place after 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 center where the meeting took place, local media reported.

His condition: Fico is “still fighting for his life,” according to Robert Kaliňák, Slovakia’s minister of defense. Kaliňák said Fico “suffered multiple injuries,” but did not provide any details when reporters asked if the prime minister was shot in the stomach.
Politically motivated: Based on “initial interviews with the suspect,” Interior Minister Matúš Šutaj Eštok said the assassination attempt was politically motivated. He said the suspect decided to carry out the attack after the presidential election. The ministers, Eštok and Kaliňák, blamed rising hate speech and division for the political atmosphere in the country.

Reaction: Slovakia’s President Zuzana Caputova said the assassination attempt was “also an attack on democracy” and an opposition member of Slovakia’s parliament, Maria Kolikova, called it “an attack on the internal security” of the country. US President Joe Biden expressed alarm at the attempted assassination, calling it a “horrific act of violence.” Various other NATO and European Union leaders, as well as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, also condemned the attack.

Tie to Russia: Russian President Vladimir Putin called the attack a “monstrous crime.” Fico is known to be a Kremlin sympathizer. He had previously blamed “Ukrainian Nazis and fascists” for provoking Putin into launching the invasion of Ukraine.

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