Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico is in a life-threatening condition after being shot multiple times in an assassination attempt on Wednesday. The shooting took place outside the House of Culture in Handlova, about 90 miles northeast of the capital, Bratislava, following an off-site government meeting.

According to a statement on Fico's official Facebook page, the 59-year-old prime minister "has been shot multiple times and is currently in life-threatening condition." The statement added that Fico is expected to undergo a medical procedure and that "the next few hours will decide" his fate.

Footage from the scene shows a wounded Fico being rushed into a vehicle by his staff, with the car speeding away as soon as he is inside. The prime minister was initially transported to a local hospital before being airlifted to a major trauma center in Banska Bystrica, approximately 20 miles away, for "an acute intervention."

Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová confirmed that a suspect has been detained by the police in connection with the shooting. In a statement on Facebook, Čaputová condemned the attack as "brutal and reckless," expressing her shock and wishing Fico "all the strength in this critical moment to recover." She later described the incident as "an attack on democracy as well" during a news conference.

The shooting has sent shockwaves through Slovakia's political landscape, with major opposition parties, Progressive Slovakia and Freedom and Solidarity, canceling a planned protest against a controversial government plan to overhaul public broadcasting. The parties had argued that the proposed changes would give the government full control of public radio and television.

Progressive Slovakia leader Michal Simecka strongly condemned the violence and the shooting of Fico, calling on all politicians to "refrain from any expressions and steps which could contribute to further increasing the tension."

Slovakia, a nation of 5.5 million people sharing a border with Ukraine, has been a steadfast supporter of Kyiv since Russia's invasion in February 2022. The country has donated arms and opened its borders to refugees fleeing the war. However, Fico has taken a different stance, stopping military aid to Ukraine, opposing European Union sanctions on Russia, and seeking to block Ukraine's NATO membership, according to The Associated Press.

European leaders swiftly condemned the attack on Fico. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted, "I strongly condemn the vile attack on Prime Minister Robert Fico. Such acts of violence have no place in our society and undermine democracy, our most precious common good. My thoughts are with PM Fico, his family."

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a close ally of Fico, added, "I was deeply shocked by the heinous attack against my friend, Prime Minister Robert Fico. We pray for his health and quick recovery! God bless him and his country!"

Fico, who won a third term as Slovakia's prime minister last October, has previously served in the role for more than a decade, first between 2006 and 2010 and then again from 2012 to 2018. He was forced to resign in March 2018 following mass protests over the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, who reported on corruption among the country's elite, including individuals directly connected to Fico and his party SMER.