Former Japan PM Abe dies after being shot during election speech

NARA-Former Japanese leader Shinzo Abe died Friday after being shot at a campaign event, an attack that shocked a country where gun violence is virtually nonexistent.

Abe, 67, was a towering political presence even after he stepped down as Japan's longest serving Prime Minister and he was campaigning ahead of elections scheduled for Sunday.

He had just begun a speech in the western city of Nara, near Kyoto, when gunfire was heard around 11:30 a.m. local time (10:30 p.m. Thursday ET).

Police said that Tetsuya Yamagishi, a 41-year-old unemployed man, was arrested at the scene and was being investigated for murder.
The suspect confessed to his crime, police said, adding that he told them he harbored a grudge against a group he believed was connected to Abe.

Yamagishi also claimed to police that he had previously worked at Japan's Navy for three years.

They said they understood the attack was carried out with a homemade gun and later found several other weapons that appeared to be homemade from a mix of metal and wood at Yamagishi’s residence. It is unclear whether the suspect carried proper licenses for the weapons.

Police are still investigating whether the suspect acted alone.

Video footage of Abe’s speech showed a puff of white smoke appear behind the former leader along with two loud cannon-like blasts. Security officers were seen tackling a man to the ground, with video and photos showing what appeared to be an improvised weapon lying on the ground.

Abe was rushed to Nara Medical University Hospital after suffering cardio and pulmonary arrest.

The hospital announced his death shortly after 5 a.m. ET.

Dr. Hidetada Fukushima, a professor of emergency medicine at the hospital, said Abe had two gunshot wounds and no vital signs when he arrived less than an hour after the shooting. (Agencies)


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