Buenos Aires (AFP) -
A man attempted to shoot Argentine Vice President Cristina Kirchner near her home in Buenos Aires on Thursday, the country's president said.
Several television channels broadcast footage showing the man pointing a small handgun at the vice president at close range as she was getting out of a car and she ducked as the weapon was aimed.
But the gun failed to fire, even though it was loaded, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez said.
'Cristina remains alive because, for a reason not yet technically confirmed, the gun, which contained five bullets, did not fire,' Fernandez said in an address to the nation.
In a video of the incident, a clicking sound can be heard as the gun is aimed toward Kirchner.
Security minister Anibal Fernandez said the man was arrested and that police would open an investigation.
'Now, the situation has to be analyzed by our scientific people to evaluate the fingerprints and the capacity and propensity this person had,' he said.
Local media reported that the suspect, who approached Kirchner in a crowd gathering around the politician to ask for her autograph, is a Brazilian national.
The opposition party Together for Change condemned the attempted attack.
'My absolute repudiation of the attack suffered by Cristina Kirchner, who fortunately was not injured. This very serious act requires an immediate and deep investigation by prosecutors and security forces,' Mauricio Macri, who was president from 2015 to 2019, tweeted.
- 'Solidarity' -
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, a strong Kirchner ally who has called the accusations against her a 'farse,' also tweeted his support Thursday night.
'We send our solidarity to Vice President Cristina Kirchner in the face of the attack against her life,' he wrote.
'We strenuously reject this act that sought to destabilize the peace of the brotherly Argentine people. The great homeland is with you, comrade!'
Hundreds of activists have gathered in recent days in front of the home of Kirchner, who is accused of fraudulently awarding public works contracts in her stronghold in Patagonia.
Prosecutors have asked that the ex-president, who ruled from 2007 to 2015, face 12 years in jail and a lifetime ban from politics.
'Nothing, absolutely nothing that they have said was proven,' Kirchner, a lawyer by trade who succeeded her late husband, Nestor Kirchner, as president, said last week.
Kirchner, 69, is president of the country's Senate and enjoys parliamentary immunity.
The verdict in her case is expected at the end of the year.
Even if convicted she would not go to prison unless her sentence was ratified by the country's Supreme Court, or if she loses her Senate seat at the next elections at the end of 2023.