Slovakia prime minister 'fighting for his life' after being shot five times

Slovakia's prime minister is in a 'life-threatening condition' tonight after he was shot in an assassination attempt, as ITV News Correspondent Emma Murphy reports.

Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico is "fighting for his life" after being shot five times in a politically motivated attack, according to the country's interior minister.

Speaking from outside the hospital where Fico is being treated, Robert Kalinak, from the Ministry of Defence, said the "situation is bad".

Fico was airlifted to Banska Bystrica Hospital following the shooting, which took place in front of the local House of Culture in the town of Handlova - about 150 kilometres northeast of the capital Bratislava.

ITV News Europe Editor James Mates analyses the possible ramifications of the shooting

He has since been in surgery for more than three hours.

A suspect has been detained by police.

Also speaking outside the hospital, Minister of Interior Matus Sutaj Estok said the shooting was an "attack on democracy", adding the initial investigation showed the motivation of the attack was "political".

Mr Kalinak said: "There’s no doubt about it."

Slovakia's Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok (right) with Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Robert Kalinak. Credit: AP

Mr Estok went on to blame "social media" hate for the attack in a country that has seen a fierce political divide in recent years.

Mr Fico had been attending a government meeting in Handlova, Slovakia's state news agency TASR reported on Wednesday, quoting deputy speaker of the Slovak Parliament, Lubos Blaha.

A reporter for the daily newspaper Dennik N daily heard shooting and then saw rescuers carrying the premier to a car.

Slovakia's outgoing President Zuzana Caputova condemned "a brutal and ruthless" attack on the prime minister.

"I'm shocked," Caputova, rival of the prime minister, said: "I wish Robert Fico a lot of strength in this critical moment and a quick recover from this attack."

One of the opposition leaders, Michal Simecka, also responded on X, saying: "I am shocked and appalled by the shooting of Prime Minister Robert Fico."

Slovakia's major opposition parties, Progressive Slovakia and Freedom and Solidarity have cancelled a planned anti-government protest.

"We unequivocally and strongly condemn any violence," he added.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also posted on X: "Shocked to hear this awful news. All our thoughts are with Prime Minister Fico and his family."

Other global leaders, including Germany's Olaf Scholz, Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and Hungary's Viktor Orban, have condemned the attack.

Police arrested a man after the Prime Minister was shot and injured Credit: AP

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said he was "shocked and appalled" by the shooting, and wished the prime minister a "speedy recovery".

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen commented: "Such acts of violence have no place in our society and undermine democracy, our most precious common good."

She said she strongly condemned the "vile attack".

Rescue workers take Robert Fico to a hospital in Banska Bystrica, central Slovakia. Credit: AP

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala called the incident "shocking," adding "I wish the premier to get well soon. We cannot tolerate violence, there’s no place for it in society."

The Czech Republic and Slovakia formed Czechoslovakia until 1992 and have maintained extremely close relations ever since..

US President Joe Biden said he was alarmed. “We condemn this horrific act of violence,” he said in a statement.

Prime Minister Fico speaks with people in Handlova on Wednesday. Credit: AP

Who is Robert Fico?

Fico, a third-time premier and leader of the leftist Smer (Direction) party, won Slovakia's September 30 parliamentary elections - staging a comeback after campaigning on a pro-Russian, anti-American ticket.

Critics worried Slovakia under Fico would abandon the country's pro-Western course and follow the direction of Hungary under populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Thousands have repeatedly rallied in the capital and across Slovakia to protest Fico's policies and he is detested by many of his opponents.

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