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‘Monstrous crime’: World reacts to attack on Slovakia’s prime minister

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‘Monstrous crime’: World reacts to attack on Slovakia’s prime minister

World leaders have condemned an attack on Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who is in a “life-threatening condition” after being shot.

The prime minister was shot “multiple times” on Wednesday in an “assassination attempt”, a statement on his official social media page said.

The 59-year-old leader was shot in the abdomen in the central town of Handlova. Police sealed off the scene, and a suspect has been detained, according to local media reports.

Here are some of the global reactions:

United States President Joe Biden

Biden condemned the shooting as a “horrific act of violence”, adding that he and first lady Jill Biden “are praying for a swift recovery, and our thoughts are with his family and the people of Slovakia”.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin

Putin said the attack was a “monstrous crime”.

“There can be no justification for this monstrous crime. I know Robert Fico as a courageous and strong-minded man. I very much hope that these qualities will help him to survive this difficult situation,” Putin said.

The Russian leader wished Fico “a speedy and full recovery”.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

Guterres decried the “shocking attack carried out today against the prime minister of Slovakia”, his office said.

Guterres’s “thoughts are with the prime minister and his loved ones at this difficult moment”, his spokesman Farhan Haq said.

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

“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,” von der Leyen said.

French President Emmanuel Macron

Macron said on social media that he was “shocked” by the attack.

“Shocked by the shooting of Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico. I strongly condemn this attack,” he said. “My thoughts and solidarity are with him, his family and the people of Slovakia.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz

Scholz decried the “cowardly” attack and denounced “violence” in European politics.

“I am deeply shocked by the news of the cowardly attack on Slovakian Prime Minister Fico,” Scholz said.

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NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg

Stoltenberg said his thoughts were with Fico and the people of Slovakia.

“I wish him strength for a speedy recovery. My thoughts are with Robert Fico, his loved ones and the people of Slovakia,” he said.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni

Meloni decried the attack and “all forms of violence” on “democracy and freedom”.

“I learned with deep shock the news of the cowardly attack,” Meloni said in a statement. She also stressed her government’s “strongest condemnation of all forms of violence and attacks on the cardinal principles of democracy and freedom”.

Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The ministry said in a statement that it “condemns the assassination attempt against the prime minister of the Slovak Republic” and “wishes [him] good health and a speedy recovery”.

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban

Orban decried the “heinous” attack against Fico.

“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!” Orban said.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic

Vucic said Fico was a “great friend” and he would pray for his health.

“I am shocked by the attempted assassination of Robert Fico, a great friend to me and to Serbia. Dear friend, I pray for you and for your health,” Vucic said.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez

Sanchez said he was “horrified” by the attack and “nothing can every justify violence”.

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“Horrified and outraged at the attack on the Slovak Prime Minister. Spain stands with Robert Fico, his family and the Slovak people at this extremely difficult time. Nothing can ever justify violence,” he wrote on social media.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer

Nehammer said he was shocked at the attack and warned “hatred and violence must not take hold in our democracies”.

“The attempt on the life of my Slovak colleague Robert Fico shocks me deeply. Just a few days ago we spoke on the phone and talked intensively about security issues. I wish him a speedy and complete recovery! Hatred and violence must not take hold in our democracies and must be fought with all determination!” Nehammer said on social media.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy condemned the attack and warned that violence should not become normalised.

“We strongly condemn this act of violence against our neighbouring partner state’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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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Erdogan “strongly” condemned “the heinous assassination attempt”.

“I extend my get-well wishes to the people and government of Slovakia on behalf of my country and nation,” Erdogan said and wished him a speedy recovery.

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Russia hits Kharkiv supermarket in deadly attack

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Russia hits Kharkiv supermarket in deadly attack

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the airstrike “a manifestation of Russian madness”.

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Scores of people were killed or wounded when an aerial bomb hit a large store in the city of Kharkiv on Saturday afternoon, according to local officials.

The airstrike caused a huge fire to break out, with huge plumes of smoke seen filling the sky in social media footage. 

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said more than 200 people could have been inside the store. 

A second bomb hit the city’s central park, Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said.

Zelenskyy called the airstrike “a manifestation of Russian madness”, and appealed to Western countries to provide Ukraine with air defence systems.

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“When we tell world leaders that Ukraine requires adequate air defence protection … we are literally talking about how not to allow such terrorist strikes,” he said in a post on X.

“Only madmen like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin are capable of killing and terrorising people in this way,” Zelenskyy added.

Kharkiv region is situated about 20 kilometres from the Russian border. 

Moscow’s troops have in recent weeks captured villages in the area as part of a broad push, and analysts say they may be trying to get within artillery range of Kharkiv city. 

Ukrainian authorities have evacuated more than 11,000 people from the region since the start of the offensive on 10 May.

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Russia’s Kharkiv push appears to be a coordinated new offensive that includes testing Ukrainian defences in the Donetsk region further south, where Russia’s Defense Ministry said Saturday that its forces had taken over the village of Arkhanhelske. 

They have also launched incursions in the northern Sumy and Chernihiv regions.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has said the Kremlin’s army is attempting to create a “buffer zone” in the Kharkiv region to prevent Ukrainian cross-border attacks.

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Biden Set to Deliver Commencement at West Point on Saturday

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Biden Set to Deliver Commencement at West Point on Saturday
By Jarrett Renshaw WILMINGTON, Delaware (Reuters) – U.S. President Biden will deliver the commencement speech on Saturday at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, amid conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza. The speech before some 1,000 U.S. Army cadets is part of a push by Biden to highlight the …
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Israel forced to work on Jewish Sabbath as UN court judge calls out colleagues in scathing dissent

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Israel forced to work on Jewish Sabbath as UN court judge calls out colleagues in scathing dissent

A U.N. International Court of Justice (ICJ) chided her colleagues on Friday for requiring Israel to work on the Sabbath when responding to a case brought by South Africa to the ICJ under the Genocide Convention.

The dissenting opinion from ICJ Vice President Julia Sebutinde came in a nine-page document, issued in response to the court’s order for Israel to end its military offensive in the southern city of Rafah in Gaza. That ruling stems from South Africa’s request, which accuses Israel of genocide in its ongoing war with Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Israel has vehemently denied these charges. 

Among her disagreements with her colleagues, Sebutinde, who is Ugandan, objected to the court’s handling of South Africa’s request, and the “incidental oral hearings.” 

Judge Nawaf Salam, president of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), speaks next to Judge Julia Sebutinde, vice president of the ICJ, at the start of a hearing in The Hague Netherlands, on May 16. (Reuters/Yves Herman)

“In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s Request and engage counsel,” Sebutinde wrote, noting that the Israel’s preferred Counsel was not available on the dates scheduled by the Court. 

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“It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a Member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath,” Sebutinde said. “The Court’s decision in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the Parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.” 

Sebutinde also argued that the court’s initial ruling “does not entirely prohibit the Israeli military from operating in Rafah.” She also urged the court, to maintain its judicial integrity, to “avoid reacting to every shift in the conflict and refrain from micromanaging the hostilities in the Gaza Strip, including Rafah.” 

LINDSEY GRAHAM TELLS UN INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE TO ‘GO TO HELL’ OVER RULING AGAINST ISRAEL

Sebutinde clarified that the ruling operates to “partially restrict Israel’s offensive in Rafah to the extent it implicates rights under the Genocide Convention.” She warned that the ruling is “susceptible to ambiguity and could be misunderstood or misconstrued as ordering an indefinite, unilateral cease-fire, thereby exemplifying an untenable overreach on the part of the Court.” 

Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment in eastern Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 19, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (AFP via Getty Images)

The judges’ ruling on Friday stopped short of ordering a full cease-fire across the entire Palestinian territory, and Israel is unlikely to comply with the court’s ruling. Friday’s decision comes just days after Norway, Ireland, and Spain said they would recognize the Palestinian state, and the chief prosecutor of a separate international court sought arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as leaders of Hamas.

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Since Oct. 7, Israeli bombardments and ground offensives in Gaza have killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health, which doesn’t distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Israel launched its war in Gaza after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed about 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250. Israel says around 100 hostages are still captive in Gaza, along with the bodies of around 30 more.

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