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Slovak Prime Minister Victim of Attempted Assassination

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico. Credit: UN Photo/Erin Siegal

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was placed in an induced coma following some four hours of emergency surgery after he was shot five times today by a single assailant in the town of Handlova, about 85 miles east of the capital Bratislava. Fico’s condition now depends on the ability of his body to cope with injuries, as he did not suffer critical blood loss, reported Sputnik, citing Slovakia’s TA3 TV channel.

A suspect was in custody, and an initial investigation found “a clear political motivation” behind the assassination attempt, Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok said as he briefed reporters alongside Defense Minister Robert Kalina outside the hospital in Banská Bystrica, where Fico was flown by helicopter for treatment. “My task as the Minister of the Interior is to ensure that this assassination attempt, not only against the Prime Minister, but also against the entire democratic system is thoroughly investigated as soon as possible. The task of the [Slovak] security agencies is to ensure the safety of all representatives of the state,” he said. Estok further warned that the country was “on the verge of civil war” due to political tension. “Such hateful comments are being made on social networks today, so please, let’s stop this immediately,” he said.

The shooter has been identified in media reports as Juraj Centula, a 71-year old writer and founder of a literary club. “I don’t agree with the government’s policy,” he is reported to have said upon being taken into custody.

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