Former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated in Nara on Friday while campaigning for the upcoming election, reported Reuters quoting public broadcaster NHK. The 67-year-old world leader was rushed to hospital in grave condition, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in an address to the nation. A suspect has been taken into custody.
“Former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo collapsed during a speech in the city of Nara, in western Japan. Initial reports say he may have been injured. An NHK reporter on-site heard something that sounded like a gunshot, and saw Abe bleeding,” NHK said in an alert at around 8.20 am IST.
The Nara city fire department said that Abe was in cardiopulmonary arrest before he was taken to the hospital.
Photographs published by the Japanese agency Kyodo showed Abe lying face-up on the street by a guardrail, blood on his white shirt. Some showed people crowding around him as he lay unconscious. Nara city’s emergency services said he had been wounded on the right side of his neck and left clavicle, reported Reuters. It added that his brother, Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi, said Abe was getting blood transfusions.
How the attack took place
The incident occurred at around 11.30 am (8 am IST). Abe was making a campaign speech on a street outside the train station ahead of Sunday’s election to the upper house of Japan’s parliament.
Two witnesses — an NHK reporter and a female attendee — told NHK that they heard two gunshots. The woman said that though the first gunshot was loud, she did not see anyone fall. But after the second shot, she saw ex-PM Abe collapse to the ground.
The NHK reporter on the scene said two consecutive bangs were heard during Abe’s speech. His security personnel were seen rushing to his aid, in videos and pictures captured.
Abe has been hit towards the left of his chest as multiple shots were fired by the attacker, reported Reuters, quoting TBS. One appears to have hit the former PM in the neck.