Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe has been killed after being shot twice at a political campaign event.
Shinzo Abe, 67, was in the process of giving a speech when a gunman attacked him from behind.
The event was taking place in the southern city of Nara. The former prime minister was making a campaign speech outside a railway station for Kei Sato, an incumbent member of the upper house of parliament.
Kei Sato is standing for the ruling party, the Liberal Democrats, in elections for the Upper House scheduled for July 10.
The above image shows Shinzo Abe stepping up to make his speech as aides applaud.
But they are seemingly unaware of another figure in the background, a casually dressed youngish man with a black cross-body bag.
At 11:30 local time footage of the event shows the man moving forward, minutes after the former prime minister starts his speech. Shots ring out and Shinzo Abe falls to the ground, visibly bleeding.
As terrified spectators duck down, security officials tackle the 41-year-old suspect, who makes no attempt to run. They wrestle him to the ground and take him into custody.
Bystanders care for Shinzo Abe as he lies bleeding and he is airlifted to Nara Medical University Hospital for treatment. Media reports say he is able to speak in the minutes after the attack but subsequently loses consciousness.
The former prime minister was in cardiac arrest on arrival at the hospital. Unsuccessful attempts were made to resuscitate him and he was given a blood transfusion, but was pronounced dead at 17:03.
Doctors say he received two wounds that damaged an artery, and suffered major heart damage.
Both wounds were deep, and blood loss was the cause of death, they add.
No bullets were found during surgery.
Eyewitnesses say they saw the man carrying what they describe as a large gun and firing twice at Shinzo Abe from behind.
The weapon, which was reportedly a handmade gun, was seized when the suspected attacker was arrested. Strict firearms laws in Japan make purchasing a gun extremely difficult.
The suspect has been identified as Nara resident Tetsuya Yamagami. Local media reports say he is believed to be a former member of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force, Japan’s equivalent of a navy.
When questioned, he said he had been “dissatisfied” with Shinzo Abe and had intended to kill him.
Media reports say that an explosives team later raided the suspect’s house to gather evidence.
It is unclear how the suspect came to know about Shinzo Abe’s attendance at the rally as it was confirmed only late on Thursday night.