BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — A man was detained Thursday night after he aimed a handgun at point-blank range toward Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernández in what President Alberto Fernández called a homicide attempt.
“A man pointed a firearm at her head and pulled the trigger,” the president said during a national broadcast. He said the gun didn’t fire.
The president shortly after video from the scene broadcasted on local television channels showed Fernández exiting her vehicle surrounded by supporters outside her home when a man could be seen extending his hand with what looked like a pistol. The vice president ducked.
The man was detained seconds into the incident. Supporters surrounding the suspect appeared shocked amid the commotion in the Recoleta neighborhood of Argentina’s capital.
“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.
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The minister said he wanted to be careful in providing details during the ongoing investigation. An unverified video posted on social media showed the pistol almost touching Fernández’s face.
Government officials were quick to describe the incident as 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” of the vice president.
“What happened tonight is of extreme gravity and threatens democracy, institutions and the rule of law,” reads the release.
Former President Mauricio Macri also repudiated the attack. “This very serious event demands an immediate and profound clarification by the judiciary and security forces,” Macri wrote on Twitter.
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Supporters of the vice president have been gathering in the streets surrounding her home since last week, when a prosecutor called for a 12-year sentence for Fernández in a case involving alleged corruption in public works.
Tensions have been running high in the upper-class Recoleta neighborhood since the weekend, when the vice president’s supporters clashed with police in the streets surrounding her apartment amid an effort by law enforcement officers to clear the area.
Fernández, who is not related to the current president, served as president herself in 2007-2015.