Former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abewas attacked with a firearm during a campaign event in the Nara region and his condition is unknown, the government reported.

“Former Prime Minister Abe was shot at around 11:30 am (02:30 GMT) in Nara. A man who thinks he is the attacker is in custody”, Japanese chief of staff Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.

He added that “Former Prime Minister Abe’s condition is unknown.”

“Whatever the reason, a barbaric act like this cannot be tolerated and we strongly condemn it,” said the chief of staff.

It was a shocking event for a country with a low level of criminal violence and harsh laws against the possession of weapons.

A man in his 40s was arrested. for attempted murder and a weapon would have been confiscated, the NHK public network reported, citing police sources.

Abe was making a campaign speech at a rally ahead of the upper legislative house elections on Sunday when gunshots were heard, NHK and the Kyodo news agency said.

“I was giving a speech and a man came from behind,” a young woman who was at the event told the NHK network.

“The first shot sounded like a toy. He didn’t fall but then there was a loud bang. The second shot was more visible, you could see the blast and the smoke,” he added.

“Terror and violence”

Abe, 67, collapsed and was bleeding from the neck, a source in his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) said. to the Jiji agency.

Several media reported that the former leader would have been attacked from behindpossibly with a shotgun.

The government announced the creation of a working group after the incident.

The American ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said he was “saddened and shocked” by the attack on Abe.

“We are all saddened and shocked,” Emanuel said in a statement. “Abe-san has been an outstanding leader of Japan and a staunch ally of the United States.”

“The American government and people are praying for the well-being of Abe-san, his family, and the people of Japan.”added the diplomat.

For his part, Gen Nakatani, an adviser to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, told reporters that “terror and violence can never be tolerated,” according to the Jiji agency.

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, ruled the country in 2006 for a year, then returned to power between 2012 and 2020.

He is a hard-line conservative who promoted the revision of Japan’s pacifist constitution to recognize the country’s military, and remained politically relevant even after leaving power.

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