Shinzo Abe: Former leader of Japan killed while making a speech

Former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the longest-serving leader, died on Friday after being shot while campaigning for a parliamentary election.

A man opened fire on Mr. Abe, 67, from behind with an apparently homemade gun as he spoke at a drab traffic island in the western city of Nara, Japanese media showed earlier.

Abe suffered two bullet wounds to his neck during the attack, and also suffered damage to his heart, doctors said.

After four hours of treatment, Abe was pronounced dead at 17:03 local.

 Security officials at the scene tackled the gunman, who is now in custody.

The suspected shooter told officers he had a grudge against a specific group he believed Abe was connected to, police said.

It was the first assassination of a sitting or former Japanese premier since the days of pre-war militarism in the 1930s.

Speaking before Mr. Abe's death was announced, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned the shooting in the "strongest terms"

"This attack is an act of brutality that happened during the elections - the very foundation of our democracy - and is absolutely unforgivable," said Mr. Kishida, struggling to keep his emotions in check.

Japanese people and world leaders expressed shock at the violence in a country in which political violence is rare and guns are tightly controlled.