Targeting politicians: Attacks on the campaign trail

17th June 2016, Comments 0 comments

The murder of British MP Jo Cox, though rare, is the latest in a string of attacks over the past quarter century that have targeted European politicians.

Although police have yet to establish whether Cox's murder was politically motivated, she was killed just a week before Britain holds a referendum on whether to stay in the European Union, as debate over the issue grew increasingly acrimonious.

Here is a recap of the main incidents:


SWEDEN - Foreign Minister Anna Lindh

On September 10, 2003, Lindh is stabbed in the arm, abdomen and chest in a Stockholm department store, and dies the next day. She had no bodyguards at the time, which was not unusual for Sweden. The attacker had previously been in hospital for psychiatric problems.

The attack took place four days before a referendum on whether to adopt the single European currency, which she backed and which went ahead as planned, but Swedes decided to keep their kronor.

NETHERLANDS - Populist rightwing Dutch leader Pim Fortuyn

On May 6, 2002, Fortuyn is shot dead in Hilversum by an animal rights activist, 10 days before a general election in which his eponymous party was tipped to do well. During the vote, his Pim Fortuyn List came in second place.

FRANCE - Municipal council members

On March 26 2002, an unhinged man, Richard Durn, opens fire on a municipal council meeting in Nanterre west of Paris, killing eight local officials and wounding 19 others. The attack comes during a presidential election in which the issues of security and the right to bear arms loom large.

Conservative president Jacques Chirac wins re-election on May 5.

ITALY - Conservative Euro-deputy Salvo Lima

On March 12, 1992, Lima is assassinated in Palermo by a mafia hit team three weeks before a general election. His name had surfaced several times during probes into organised crime, but no proof of ties was ever produced.

The murder occurred amid efforts to crack down on Mafia influence and on April 5, the Christian Democratic party, in power since 1945, suffers a severe defeat.


GERMANY - Conservative mayoral candidate Henriette Reker

On October 17, 2015, Reker is stabbed in the neck by a man identified as Frank S., in the western German city of Cologne. At his trial, prosecutors say the attack was triggered by the man's opposition to Berlin's open-door policy on refugees. Reker wins election in the first round with 52 percent of the vote and now runs the fourth biggest city in Germany.

GERMANY - Interior minister Wolfgang Schaeuble/Social Democratic candidate Oskar Lafontaine

Two attacks take place in the run up to Germany's 1990 general elections. On October 12, Schaeuble is shot twice by a 37-year-old alleged drug addict in the western town of Oppenau, leaving him paralysed. His conservative CDU/CSU coalition wins the vote, and he is now Germany's finance minister.

Several months beforehand, on April 25, Lafontaine is seriously wounded after being stabbed in the neck by a mentally unbalanced woman in Cologne.

© 2016 AFP

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