Reactions as Slovak prime minister Robert Fico is shot and wounded

The shooting Wednesday of Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico in the town of Handlova following a political event sent shockwaves across Europe three weeks before EU parliament elections are scheduled to be held.

Leaders from across the political divide denounced the apparent assassination attempt against the populist, pro-Russian leader, calling it an attack on democracy.

Concern is mounting that populists and nationalists, similar to Fico, could make significant gains in the June 6-9 elections.

Here’s what European leaders and others are saying:

“What has happened is something that we cannot seem to realise because we cannot comprehend it. A physical attack on the Prime Minister is, first of all, an attack on a person, but it is also an attack on democracy. Any violence is unacceptable. Hateful rhetoric we’ve been witnessing in society leads to hateful actions. Please let’s stop it.” – Slovak President Zuzana Caputova, Fico’s political rival, in a televised statement.

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“An assassination attempt on one of the highest constitutional officials is an unprecedented threat to Slovak democracy. If we express different political opinions with guns in the squares, and not in polling stations, we endanger everything we have built together in 31 years of Slovak sovereignty. – Slovak President-elect Peter Pellegrini.

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“We strongly

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