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Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico is fighting for his life after yesterday’s assassination attempt, Slovak officials have said, as they condemned the attack as an “attempted assassination on democracy”.

The comments come as Slovak police charged a suspect in connection with the attack.

The country’s interior minister Sutaj Estok described the suspect as a “lone wolf”, saying the shooting was politically motivated.

Slovakia prime minister shot – latest: Slovak PM ‘not out of the woods yet’

At a news conference earlier, President-elect Peter Pellegrini said he was “appalled” at “where hate can lead us” as he called for calm alongside outgoing President Zuzana Caputova.

“An attempted assassination of the prime minister is an attempted assassination on democracy,” Mr Pellegrini said,

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“This assassination attempt needs to be condemned by all of us jointly … We must not respond to hate with more hate or else this evil will never be stopped,” he said.

Slovakia's prime minister Robert Fico
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Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico. Pic: Reuters

Multiple shots were fired on Wednesday outside a cultural centre in the town of Handlova, around 85 miles northeast of the capital Bratislava, where the 59-year-old prime minister was meeting supporters, the government said.

Slovakia’s deputy prime minister Robert Kalinak described the attack as “premeditated”, saying Mr Fico was “not out of the woods yet”.

Doctors have performed a five-hour operation on Mr Fico and he is being treated in an intensive care unit, one hospital official has said.

The country’s defence minister has said Mr Fico’s serious condition is due to how “complicated” his gunshot injuries were.

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Video shows moment Slovak PM was shot

The attack comes as political campaigning heats up three weeks ahead of Europe-wide elections to choose members for the European Parliament.

Mr Fico has long been a divisive figure. His return to power last year on a pro-Russian, anti-American ticket led to worries among fellow EU and NATO members that he would turn his country further away from the Western mainstream.

Under his stewardship, the government has halted arms deliveries to Ukraine, and his opponents worry he will lead Slovakia in the footsteps of Viktor Orban’s Hungary.

Thousands have repeatedly rallied in the capital and across Slovakia to protest against Mr Fico’s policies.

The attack, which was the first major assassination attempt on a European political leader for more than 20 years, has been condemned internationally.

In a message released by the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin wished the prime minister a fast and full recovery.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also condemned the violence against a neighbouring country’s head of government.

“Every effort should be made to ensure that violence does not become the norm in any country, form or sphere,” he said.

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Zelenskyy calls on Biden and Xi to join Ukraine peace summit

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Zelenskyy calls on Biden and Xi to join Ukraine peace summit

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has directly called on his US and Chinese counterparts to join his latest summit for peace in Ukraine.

Speaking from Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine on Friday, Mr Zelenskyy announced a “global peace summit”, co-hosted by Switzerland, starting on 15 June.

He claimed 80 countries have already confirmed their attendance.

But he said: “I am appealing to the global leaders of the world who are still outside the global efforts of the global peace summit.

“To President Biden, the leader of the United States, and to President Xi, the leader of China, we do not want the UN charter to be burned.

“Please show your leadership in advancing the peace.”

Residents evacuated from a building hit by strikes in Kharkiv on Saturday. Pic: Reuters
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Residents evacuated from a building hit by strikes in Kharkiv on Saturday. Pic: Reuters

He added that it must be “real peace – not just a pause in the strikes” after various ceasefire breaches by the Russians.

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Finally, he urged: “The efforts of the global majority are the best guarantee that all commitments will be fulfilled.”

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Shopping mall hit by strike in Kharkiv on Saturday. Pic: Reuters

Printworks and shopping centre targeted this week

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, with a pre-war population of 1.5 million people, is close to the frontline, and has been consistently targeted since the initial invasion in February 2022.

On Thursday, its ‘Vivat’ printworks, which is the country’s largest, was hit by missiles, killing seven people, and destroying an estimated 50,000 books. A further 21 people were injured, Ukrainian officials said.

On Saturday, a strike on a shopping centre killed six people, injured 40, and left a further 16 unaccounted for, local authorities said.

Elsewhere in the city, an additional 11 people were injured as a result of strikes, including a 13-year-old boy.

Just over the border, in Russia’s Belgorod region, the regional governor there said four residents died as a result of Ukrainian attacks on Saturday.

Aftermath of Russian strike on Kharkiv on Saturday. Pic: Reuters
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Aftermath of Russian strike on Kharkiv on Saturday. Pic: Reuters

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Crowded DIY stores hit by strikes
Ukrainians training without firing due to shortages
Putin thanks Xi for his Ukraine efforts

Mr Zelenskyy warned a new Russian offensive is being planned northwest of Kharkiv.

Ukrainians and military analysts have repeatedly warned of depleting weapon supplies on the frontline.

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Earlier this month the US agreed to a further $2bn (£1.6bn) in military support for Ukraine.

It has consistently resisted calls to send US troops there, in line with NATO’s refusal for direct involvement in the conflict.

China has resisted calls by NATO and its member states to take a direct stance against Russia in support of Ukraine.

President Xi hosted Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a show of “friendship” earlier this month.

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Hamas launches first rocket attack on Israel from Gaza in months

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Hamas launches first rocket attack on Israel from Gaza in months

Hamas has launched rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza for the first time in months.

The barrage of rockets set off air raid sirens in cities as far away as Tel Aviv.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage in what appeared to be the first long-range rocket attack from Gaza since January, although Palestinian militants have continued to sporadically fire rockets and mortar rounds at communities along the Gaza border since then.

Hamas’s military wing claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Israeli military said eight projectiles crossed into Israel after being launched from the area of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where Israeli forces recently launched an incursion.

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India: Newborn babies killed in fire at hospital in Delhi after ‘chain of explosions’

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India: Newborn babies killed in fire at hospital in Delhi after 'chain of explosions'

At least six newborn babies have died after a fire broke out at a children’s hospital in India, according to reports.

Firefighters said they carried 12 newborns out of the centre in the Vivek Vihar district of east New Delhi late on Saturday night, but five of them died due to smoke inhalation.

Two other infants are believed to have already died, according to local media. There are differing reports as to whether six or seven infants have been killed so far.

Another five survived and are being treated in a nearby hospital, Delhi fire department chief Atul Garg said.

The blaze, which broke out on the first floor of the hospital, was put out after about an hour.

Burnt registration cards lie on the floor of a baby care center in New Delhi, India, Sunday, May 26, 2024. A fire broke out in the care center on Saturday night killing six infants, a fire service officer said on Sunday. (AP Photo/Dinesh Joshi)
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Burnt registration cards lie on the floor of the hospital. Pic: AP

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Mr Garg told the ANI news agency that an oxygen cylinder blast was the likely cause of the fire, but there has been no official confirmation.

“It was a very tough operation,” he was quoted as saying by India Today.

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“We made two teams. One team started firefighting because there was a blast of cylinders. We can say it was a chain of blasts of cylinders.

“We had to save ourselves also. We started rescue operations for babies as well. Unfortunately, we could not save all the children… That is a regrettable incident.”

The owner of the baby hospital has fled, according to Delhi police.

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s chief minister, called the fire “heartbreaking”, adding that the “causes of the incident are being investigated and whoever is responsible for this negligence will not be spared”.

Machines move the debris following a fire in a gaming zone in Rajkot, in the western state of Gujarat, India, May 26, 2024. REUTERS/Amit Dave
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Machines move debris after a fire in Rajkot. Pic: Reuters

Earlier on Saturday, at least 27 people were killed in a fire at a crowded amusement park in the city of Rajkot in Gujarat state in western India.

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