In his interview with the BBC, Deputy Prime Minister Taraba blamed “false narratives” by opposition parties in Slovakia for the shooting.

“Our prime minister several times mentioned in the past that he was afraid that this would happen,” Mr Taraba said in another interview with the BBC’s World Tonight programme.

According to him, Mr Fico had warned that the way in which “the government was attacked by false narratives can overheat the reaction of people and lead to something like this”.

Parliament was sitting at the time of the attack and Slovak media reported that a party colleague of Mr Fico’s shouted at opposition MPs, accusing them of stoking the attack.

And Interior Minister Mr Estok accused the media of contributing to the climate that led to the 59-year-old’s shooting, telling a press conference: “Many of you were those who were sowing this hatred.”

Mr Estok added that he believed “this assassination [attempt] was politically motivated”.

Reacting to news of the attack, Slovakia’s outgoing President Zuzana Caputova said something “so serious had happened that we can’t even realise it yet”.

“The hateful rhetoric we witness in society leads to hateful acts,” she added.

Mr Fico returned to power in Slovakia after elections last September, as the head of a populist-nationalist coalition. His first few months as prime minister have proved highly contentious politically. In January he halted military aid to Ukraine and last month pushed through plans to abolish RTVS.

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