Japan: Ex-PM assassinated while delivering a speech

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Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe has died in hospital after he was shot at a political campaign event.

Abe was shot at twice while he was giving a speech on a street in the city of Nara on Friday morning.

Security officials at the scene tackled the gunman and a 41-year-old suspect is now in police custody.

The suspect, named as Tetsuya Yamagami, admitted shooting Abe with a homemade gun, and said he had a grudge against a “specific organisation”, police said.

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Several other handmade weapons, similar to those used in the attack, had been confiscated after a search of the suspect’s house, police officers told a news conference.

Explosives were also found at the home and police said they had advised residents to evacuate the area.

The suspected shooter told officers he had a grudge against a specific group he believed Abe was connected to, police said, adding that they were investigating why the former PM was targeted out of other people related to the group.

Asked by a member of the Japanese media whether the gunman’s intention was to kill Abe, police say only that Mr Yamagami admitted to shooting the former PM.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned the attack, saying: “It is barbaric and malicious and it cannot be tolerated.”

This attack was “an act of brutality that happened during the elections – the very foundation of our democracy – and is absolutely unforgivable,” Mr Kishida said, speaking before Abe’s death was confirmed.

Abe suffered two bullet wounds to his neck during the attack, and also suffered damage to his heart, doctors said.

He was said to be conscious and responsive in the minutes after the attack, but the 67-year-old’s condition deteriorated.

Doctors said no vital signs were detected by the time the former prime minister was transferred for treatment. Abe received more than 100 units of blood in transfusions over four hours, before he was pronounced dead at 5.03pm local time (0803 GMT).

Eyewitnesses see man with large gun
Abe was giving a speech for a political candidate at a road junction in the southern city of Nara when the attack happened.

Witnesses saw a man carrying what they described as a large gun fire twice at the former PM from behind. Abe fell to the ground as bystanders screamed in shock and disbelief.

Abe had a security team with him, but it appears the gunman was still able to get within a few metres of Mr Abe without any sort of checks or barrier.

Photos circulating in the aftermath of the shooting showed the suspect standing just behind Mr Abe as he gave his speech.

Security officers dived onto the attacker, who made no attempt to run, and seized his weapon.

Local reports say he is a former member of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force, Japan’s equivalent of a navy. He is said to have left active service in 2005.

How the attack unfolded.

Abe’s speech was part of a campaign for his former party, the Liberal Democratic Party, as upper house elections in Japan are due to take place later this week.

Ministers across the country were later reportedly told to return to Tokyo immediately.

On Japanese social media, the hashtag “We want democracy, not violence” was trending, with many social media users expressing their horror and disgust about the incident.

Abe was campaigning in the southern city of Nara for a parliamentary election – around 300 miles (480km) from the capital city Tokyo.

He was giving a speech for political candidate Kei Sato – a current member of the Upper House running for re-election in Nara.

At 11:30 local time (02:30 GMT) shots rang out and Abe was shot twice in the neck
He immediately collapsed and was rushed to the nearest hospital.

Security officials at the scene tackled the gunman, who is now in custody
An unidentified weapon was filmed on the ground after the attack.

After four hours of treatment, Abe was pronounced dead at 17:03 local time (08:03 GMT)

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