Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated Friday while on the campaign trail giving a speech, according to Japan’s NHK public television.
Abe, the country’s longest-serving prime minister, was shot shortly after he began his speech in the western Japanese city of Nara. He was airlifted to a hospital after the shooting and later pronounced dead.
Police cited by Reuters said a 41-year-old suspect had been arrested.
The shooter, identified as Tetsuya Yamagami, was cited by NHK as telling police he was dissatisfied with Abe and wanted him dead.
The 67 year old former prime minister was delivering a speech for a Liberal Democratic Party of Japan candidate’s election campaign ahead of upcoming elections when, at around 11:30 am, two shots rang out.
“There was a loud bang and then smoke,” said businessman Makoto Ichikawa, who was at the scene.
“The first shot, no one knew what was going on, but after the second shot, what looked like special police tackled him.”
Video from the scene shared on social media showed what appeared to be security officials tackling a man in a grey T-shirt and what looked like a sawed-off shotgun lying on the ground.
‘Act of Brutality’
Speaking before Abe’s death was announced, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned the shooting.
“This attack is an act of brutality that happened during the elections—the very foundation of our democracy—and is absolutely unforgivable,” he said.
A reporter for public broadcaster NHK, who was at the scene, said she heard what sounded like two consecutive gunshots and then saw Abe bleeding.
Footage aired by the station captured the moment he fell on the street, after which several security guards ran toward him. He was holding his chest.
NHK, citing police sources, reported that Abe was conscious and responsive while he was transported to the hospital. The same broadcaster also reported that Abe later appeared to show no vital signs, citing the local fire department.