Slovakia’s populist prime minister shot in assassination attempt

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BANSKA BYSTRICA, Slovakia (AP) — Slovakia’s populist prime minister, Robert Fico, was shot multiple times and gravely wounded Wednesday while greeting supporters at an event in an attempted assassination that shocked the small country and reverberated across Europe weeks before an election.

Doctors were still fighting for his life several hours after the pro-Russian leader, 59, was hit in the abdomen, Defense Minister Robert Kalina told reporters at the hospital where Fico was being treated.

An operation on Fico was not yet complete, said Kalina, who described his condition as “extraordinarily serious.”

Five shots were fired outside a cultural center in the town of Handlova, nearly 140 kilometers (85 miles) northeast of the capital, government officials said. Fico was shot while attending a meeting of his government in the town of 16,000 that was once a center of coal mining.