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A man has been arrested after he allegedly aimed a handgun point-blank at Argentinian Vice President Cristina Fernández and attempted to shoot her outside her home in Buenos Aires on Thursday.
President Alberto Fernández, who is not related to the vice president, said the apparent assassination attempt failed because the gun did not fire.
“A man pointed a firearm at her head and pulled the trigger,” he said in a nationally broadcasted message.
The Argentinian president said it was “the most serious incident since we recovered democracy” in 1983 and urged political leaders, and society at large, to condemn the attempted assassination.
The vice president, who formerly served as Argentina’s president from 2007-2015, found herself embroiled in controversy last week after a prosecutor called for a 12-year sentence as well as a life-long ban on her ability to hold public office.
The call was made over public works corruption allegations levied at Fernández during her presidency.
The vice president has denied all charges, and her supporters have rallied behind her, gathering on the streets surrounding her home in an apparent show of support.
The president spoke shortly after a video was released on local television channels showing the assassination attempt as Fernández exited her vehicle surrounded by supporters.
A man could be seen extending his hand while holding a hand gun before he then appeared to pull the trigger inches from her face.
The vice president ducked as surrounding supporters appeared shocked at the apparently blatant murder attempt.
The man, whose identity was not released by authorities, was reportedly detained within seconds.
The president said the firearm had five bullets “and didn’t fire even though the trigger was pulled.”
There was no indication that the vice president suffered any harm, and it remains unclear where she was taken following the events.
“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,” Security Minister Aníbal Fernández told local cable news channel C5N.
State-run news agency Télam identified the alleged gunman as Fernando Andrés Zabak, a Brazilian citizen. Officials had not confirmed the information.
The security minister said he wanted to be careful in providing details until the investigation unfolded.
Government officials have deemed the incident an assassination attempt.
“When hate and violence are imposed over the debate of ideas, societies are destroyed and generate situations like the one seen today: an assassination attempt,” Economy Minister Sergio Massa said.
Ministers in President Alberto Fernández’s government issued a news release saying they “energetically condemn the attempted homicide.”
“What happened tonight is of extreme gravity and threatens democracy, institutions and the rule of law,” the release said.
Former President Mauricio Macri also condemned the attack on Twitter saying, “This very serious event demands an immediate and profound clarification by the judiciary and security forces.”
Patricia Bullrich, president of the opposition Republican Proposal party, criticized the president, saying he is “playing with fire” because “instead of seriously investigating a serious incident, he accuses the opposition and the press, decreeing a national holiday to mobilize activists.”
The security situation around the vice president’s home has remained tense since her supporters clashed with police on the streets over the weekend when they attempted to clear the area.
The police presence around her home was reduced following the clashes.
Fernández allies have laid the blame on opposition leaders for the attempted attack and said hateful speech by her opponents has promoted violence.
“This is a historic event in Argentina that must be a before-and-after,” Buenos Aires Gov. Axel Kicillof said.
Regional leaders also condemned the attack.
“We send our solidarity to the vice president in this attempt against her life,” Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro said on Twitter.
Presidential candidate in next month’s presidential election, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva, also expressed solidarity with Fernández and called her a “victim of a fascist criminal who doesn’t know how to respect differences and diversity.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.