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The attempt to kill Argentina's vice president shook the country

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - Hundreds of thousands of Argentines gathered in the capital's main plaza on Friday to show their supp...

Image: Reuters


Berita 24 English - Hundreds of thousands of Argentines gathered in the capital's main plaza on Friday to show their support for the country's vice president after a shocking assassination attempt on him the day before. The attack sparked an outpouring of support in a country that is deeply divided politically and in the middle of an economic crisis.


A gunman pointed a loaded pistol at Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner from close range Thursday night outside her Buenos Aires home, where a crowd had gathered. However, the gun did not go off.



The attack on Fernandez de Kirchner, a former left-wing president of a South American country, has not been explained by the police yet.



The historic Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, which is next to the presidential offices at Casa Rosada, was full of her supporters waving flags and other activists and unions on Friday.



Santiago Bianco, a 58-year-old teacher, said, "Thank God and the Virgin that the bullet didn't go through."



Others in the crowded plaza also felt nervous relief that something much worse hadn't happened.



"It's inconceivable to us that something like that could happen to Cristina," said Claudia, who didn't want to give her last name. "Last night, we were saved from something so bad that we can't even understand it."



Political leaders in the area, U.S. officials, and Pope Francis of Argentina all condemned the attack, which happened during a very bad economic downturn caused by sky-high inflation and the falling value of the peso currency.



Fernandez de Kirchner, a controversial figure who is arguably Argentina's most powerful politician, could be charged with corruption over an alleged plan to steal public money while she was president from 2007 to 2015. In the past few weeks, a prosecutor asked for a 12-year prison sentence.



She says she hasn't done anything wrong, and her supporters have marched in the streets and gathered every day outside her house to say that the judiciary and the conservative opposition are leading what they call a witch hunt against her.



"HATE RHETORIC"



The office of President Alberto Fernandez has called for an end to "hate speech," and the president said the attack was the worst since the country returned to democracy decades ago.



Video and photos of the attack that went viral on Thursday night showed the gun being pushed toward Fernandez de Kirchner's head before she ducked down and covered her face with her hands. This was seen in every home in the country. Then, people who supported her dragged a man away from her house.



Oscar Parrilli, a senator in the ruling coalition who is close to the vice president, said on local radio that she was shocked but fine. "Thank goodness, she still has her spirit," he said.



A suspect named Fernando Andres Sabag Montiel, who is 35 years old and from Brazil, was taken into custody by the police.



Police sources told the local newspaper La Nacion that Montiel worked as a driver and rented rooms in the Villa Zagala neighbourhood of the capital. When police searched the house, they found 100 bullets, the newspaper said.



Reuters saw a video of the police raiding the property.



Oscar Delupi, 64, who works for the railroad, said that political differences were to blame for the violence.



He said, "It's crazy, society has already lost its temper a little, and the message of hate... is getting stronger in those with weak minds who choose to do something crazy like attack."

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