Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner: ‘Gun misfire’ thwarts attempt to kill Argentina’s vice president

Argentina's vice-president has narrowly avoided assassination after a gunman's weapon jammed as he aimed at her.

An attempt to kill Argentina’s vice president Cristina Fernandez outside her home failed after a handgun misfired.

The man who was seen brandishing the weapon was quickly overpowered by Ms Fernandez’s security officers during the incident on Thursday night, officials said.

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Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was greeting supporters outside her home when the incident happened.

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President Alberto Fernandez said the pistol did not discharge when the man tried to fire it.

“A man pointed a firearm at her head and pulled the trigger,” the president said in a national broadcast following the incident.

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He said the firearm was loaded with five bullets, but “didn’t fire even though the trigger was pulled”.

The vice president, herself a former leader of the country, did not appear to have suffered any injury, and the man was overpowered within seconds as he stood among a crowd of her supporters.

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An attempt to kill Argentina’s politically powerful vice president Cristina Fernandez outside her home failed after a handgun misfired, according to the president.

Gina De Bai, a witness who was near the vice president during the incident, told The Associated Press she heard “the sound of the trigger being pulled”. She said she did not realise it was a handgun until the man was rushed by security personnel.

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President Fernandez, who is not related to the vice president, called it “the most serious incident since we recovered democracy” in 1983 after a military dictatorship and urged political leaders, and society at large, to repudiate the attempted shooting.

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The attack came as the vice president is facing a trial for alleged acts of corruption during her 2007-2015 presidency – charges that she vehemently denies and that have led her supporters to surround her home in the upscale Recoleta area of Argentina’s capital.

In this photo released by Telam news agency a man points a gun at Argentina's Vice-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner as she arrives to her residence in Buenos Aires on September 1, 2022. - A man was arrested Thursday in Argentina for pointing a gun at Vice-President Cristina Kirchner as she arrived at her home, said Security Minister Aníbal Fernández. via Getty
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Video broadcast on local television channels showed Ms Fernandez exiting her vehicle surrounded by supporters when a man is seen extending his hand with what looks like a pistol.

The vice president ducks as people around the apparent gunman appear shocked at what is happening.

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Unverified video posted on social media shows the pistol almost touched Ms Fernandez’s face.

Police said the gunman, who local media identified as a 35-year-old Brazilian, Fernando Andre Sabag Montiel, has been taken into custody. They are attempting to establish a motive for the attack. He does not have a criminal record, the official said, adding that the weapon was a .32-calibre Bersa.

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This screen grab obtained from a handout video released by TV Publica shows a man pointing a gun at Argentine Vice-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner as she arrives to her residence in Buenos Aires on September 1, 2022. - A man was arrested Thursday in Argentina for pointing a gun at Vice-President Cristina Kirchner as she arrived at her home, said Security Minister Aníbal Fernández. Photo by Handout / TV PUBLICA / AFP

The president declared Friday a holiday “so the Argentine people can, in peace and harmony, express itself in defence of life, democracy and in solidarity with our vice president”.

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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 Ms Fernandez as well as a life-long prohibition in holding public office in the corruption case.

Ms de Kirchner is accused of defrauding the state and of fraudulently awarding public works contracts in her stronghold in Patagonia while she was president between 2007 and 2015.

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In recent days, hundreds of protesters have gathered in support outside the 69-year-old's home in the capital while the trial is under way.