Buenos Aires (AFP):Argentina’s Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was unharmed late Thursday when a man with a loaded gun tried to shoot her but the gun did not go off, officials said.
The attack underscores rising political tension in Argentina and around the region that has put politicians on edge from Colombia to Brazil.
“A man pointed a firearm at her head and pulled the trigger. Cristina is still alive because, for some reason yet to be confirmed, the gun … did not fire,” President Alberto Fernandez said in a televised address.
The president said the gun had been loaded with five bullets.
“This is the most serious event we have gone through since Argentina returned to democracy,” he said.
Kirchner is on trial on corruption charges and hundreds of supporters had gathered outside her Buenos Aires home when the attack took place.
Shock as a man in crowd pulls out gun
The assailant, who authorities identified as a 35-year-old man of Brazilian origin, was quickly arrested by police and the weapon was seized.
Video from the scene broadcast on local television channels shows Kirchner exiting her vehicle surrounded by supporters outside her home when a man can be seen extending his hand with what looks like a pistol and the vice president ducks.
Supporters surrounding the person appear shocked at what is happening amid the commotion in the Recoleta neighbourhood of Argentina’s capital.
“A person who was identified by those who were close to him who had a gun was detained by (the vice president’s) security personnel. They set him aside, found the weapon, and now it must be analysed,” Security Minister Aníbal Fernandez told local cable news channel C5N.
The minister said he wanted to be careful in providing details until the investigation learned more. There was no official comment on whether the gun was real.
Local media reports said the alleged gunman was identified as Fernando Andre Sabag Montiel, a Brazilian citizen. Authorities did not confirm his identity.
Kirchner, who served as president for two terms between 2007 and 2015, is a divisive figure in Argentina. She could face a 12-year sentence and possible disqualification from public office over public contracts awarded in the early 2000s.
She has been widely expected to run for the Senate and possibly the presidency in next year’s general elections.
“When hate and violence prevail over debate, societies are destroyed and situations like these arise: attempted assassination,” said Economy Minister Sergio Massa on Twitter.
Heads of state and political allies from around the region, including Chilean President Gabriel Boric, Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro, Peru’s Pedro Castillo and Brazilian presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva denounced the attack in messages on Twitter, expressing solidarity with Fernandez de Kirchner and relief that she was not hurt.
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