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Mayor of Polish city dies after being stabbed at charity event

Pawel Adamowicz was in surgery for five hours following the stabbing in Gdansk.

Updated Jan 14th 2019, 1:49 PM

Source: Guardian News/YouTube

THE MAYOR OF the Polish port city of Gdansk has died today, after a knife-wielding assailant stabbed him in front of hundreds of people at a charity event last night.

Video footage showed the attacker bursting onto the podium and launching himself at Pawel Adamowicz, 53, who had been waving sparklers with others on stage at the fundraiser yesterday evening.

After knifing the mayor several times, the man turned to the crowd with his arms raised triumphantly but was quickly tackled to the ground by security guards and arrested.

Paramedics resuscitated Adamowicz at the scene before rushing him to hospital where doctors said early today he had survived an operation but was in a “very, very critical condition”.

The mayor suffered a serious wound to the heart and cuts to the diaphragm and abdominal organs, said Tomasz Stefaniak, the surgeon who treated him at Gdansk’s university hospital.

He died from his injuries this afternoon, the Polish health minister confirmed.

A local police spokesman said the detained man was a 27-year-old who lived in Gdansk, a Baltic coast city with a population of around half a million.

In a video recording of the attack posted on YouTube, the suspect was seen seizing the microphone and claiming he had been wrongly jailed by the previous centrist government of the Civic Platform (PO) and tortured.

“That’s why Adamowicz dies,” he said.

Poland Mayor Attacked A man (left) holding a sharp object just after stabbing Mayor Adamowicz. Source: Anna Rezulak AP/PA Images

One eyewitness told broadcaster TVN that the man appeared “happy with what he had done”.

‘Press’ badge

Adamowicz had been mayor of Gdansk for two decades and the Civic Platform had supported his re-election in 2018 municipal polls.

Last night’s event was part of a big nationwide drive to raise funds for the purchase of medical equipment and featured a colourful stage set-up including lights, smoke and pyrotechnics.

According to local media, the suspect had been sentenced to more than five years in prison for four armed attacks on banks in Gdansk.

His mental state had severely deteriorated during his time in jail, reports said.

Police were investigating how the attacker had been able to breach security to reach the podium, local police spokeswoman Joanna Kowalik-Kosinska told reporters.

“We know that he used an identifier with the inscription ‘Press’,” she said. “Now we have to establish how was it obtained, was the accreditation in his name and was he really entitled to be there at that time?”

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki condemned the attack on Twitter and Interior Minister Joachim Brudzinski called it “an incomprehensible act of barbarism”.

Overseas officials including EU President Donald Tusk, European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans and mayor of London Sadiq Khan also expressed their support for Adamowicz.

- © AFP 2019

With reporting from The Associated Press

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