Assassination Attempt Leaves Prime Minister Critically Injured

Slovakia’s Prime Minister, Robert Fico, was critically injured in an assassination attempt on Wednesday, according to an official statement from the government. Fico, 59, was immediately taken to a hospital in Handlova, a central city where he had just concluded a government meeting. Due to the severity of his injuries, he was airlifted to Banska Bystrica for urgent medical attention.

An eyewitness from Reuters reported hearing multiple gunshots following the government meeting in Handlova, located northeast of the capital, Bratislava. The police apprehended a suspect, and security officials were seen escorting an individual into a vehicle before speeding away.

The government office confirmed the assassination attempt on Prime Minister Fico, which took place during an off-site government meeting in Handlova. The decision to airlift Fico to Banska Bystrica was made due to the urgent need for medical intervention and the time it would take to reach Bratislava.

Emergency Services reported receiving a distress call about a shooting incident in Handlova shortly after 2:30 p.m. local time. They dispatched an emergency helicopter to attend to a 59-year-old patient. TA3, a local broadcaster, reported that four shots were fired, with the leftist prime minister sustaining injuries to his abdomen.

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, led the international condemnation of the attack. The incident also sent shockwaves through the European Union and NATO, with member states in central Europe expressing their dismay. Von der Leyen emphasized that such violent acts undermine democracy and have no place in society.

The Slovak government had convened in Handlova, located 118 miles northeast of Bratislava, as part of a countrywide tour following their rise to power late last year. Fico, who assumed the role of prime minister for the fourth time last year, has navigated a shifting political landscape throughout his three-decade career, oscillating between pro-European mainstream and nationalistic stances.

In the aftermath of the shooting, Slovakia’s largest opposition party canceled a planned protest against government public broadcaster reforms scheduled for Wednesday evening. Slovak President Zuzana Caputova, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Austria’s conservative Chancellor Karl Nehammer all expressed their shock and condemnation of the attack, emphasizing that violence has no place in European politics.