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Shinzo Abe: Gunman admits shooting dead former Japanese prime minister, police say

Shinzo Abe: Gunman admits shooting dead former Japanese prime minister, police say

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A man has admitted assassinating the former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, police have said.

Mr Abe, 67, was shot twice from behind while giving a speech at a campaign rally in the western city of Nara.

He bled to death after sustaining two deep neck wounds that damaged an artery.

It is the first assassination of a sitting or former Japanese premier since the 1930s.

Named in media reports as 41-year-old Yamagami Tetsuya, the gunman appeared unemotional when talking to investigators and has been responding calmly to questions.

Explosives have been found at the unemployed suspect's home and officers are recommending nearby residents evacuate their homes.

Pictures from the scene show what appears to be a homemade firearm. It was made of a mix of materials including metal and wood, police said.

It remains unclear whether the parts for it were bought on the internet and if it was made on a 3D printer.

An image isolated on video appears to show him moments before the shooting took place.

Dressed in a grey T-shirt and beige trousers, he was wrestled to the ground by police.

He told investigators he spent three years working for Japan's Maritime Self-Defence Force.

According to state broadcaster NHK, he told police he was unhappy with Mr Abe and intended to kill him.

But Kyodo News said he had not been motivated by a grudge against Mr Abe's political beliefs.

Major damage to the heart

Mr Abe had no vital signs when he arrived at Nara Medical University Hospital and was never revived after suffering major damage to his heart.

More than 100 units of blood were given during four hours of blood transfusions as Mr Abe haemorrhaged.

Mr Abe held his chest as he collapsed, his shirt smeared with blood. NHK showed footage of security guards running towards him.

A puff of white smoke was seen as he made a campaign speech outside a railway station ahead of elections to Japan's upper house on Sunday.

A reporter at the scene said they heard two consecutive bangs during Mr Abe's address.

Fumio Kishida, the prime minister, said the "act of brutality" was "absolutely unforgivable". He has asked all members of the cabinet to return to Tokyo.

Mr Kishida said a free and fair election is something that must be defended at all costs, and that campaigning will continue on Saturday.

Mr Kishida said he had great respect for Mr Abe's legacy.

'Absolutely unforgivable, no matter what the reasons are'

Political violence is rare in Japan, which has strict gun regulations.

In a nation of 125 million people there were only 10 gun-related criminal cases last year, resulting in one death and four injuries, according to police.

The majority of those cases - eight - were gang-related.

"A barbaric act like this is absolutely unforgivable, no matter what the reasons are, and we condemn it strongly," chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said.

Boris Johnson, the outgoing prime minister, said Mr Abe's death was "incredibly sad news".

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Mr Abe was a "wonderful person, great democrat and champion of the multilateral world order".

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president, said the "heinous act of violence has no excuse".

Mr Abe served two terms as prime minister - becoming Japan's longest-serving premier - before stepping down in 2020, saying a chronic health problem had resurfaced.

He has suffered from ulcerative colitis since he was a teenager.

He has remained a dominant presence in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, controlling one of its major factions.