Polish mayor dies after being stabbed at charity event

Mayor of Gdansk Pawel Adamowicz

A Polish police spokesman says a man accused of seriously wounding Gdansk city Mayor Pawel Adamowicz acted out of "irrational" motives and is in custody waiting for questioning by prosecutors.

The mayor of Gdansk in Poland has been stabbed while on stage during a charity event.

During the night Adamowicz underwent a five-hour operation at the University Clinical Centre in Gdańsk. Gdansk's Mayor Pawel Adamowicz speaks during the 27th Grand Finale of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity in Gdansk, Poland.

The director of the hospital in Gdansk where the mayor was taken, Jakub Kraszewski, told reporters just before midnight local time (23:00 GMT) that surgery was underway.

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly.

One of the surgeons, Dr Tomasz Stefaniak, said earlier that Mr Adamowicz was in "very, very serious condition" after he suffered a "serious wound to the heart, a wound to the diaphragm and to the internal organs".

The assailant raised his arms triumphantly to the crowd after the attack, before being tackled and arrested by security guards.

Gdansk Mayor Pawel Adamowicz speaks on January 13, 2019.

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The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity raises money to buy state-of-the-art medical equipment for Poland's cash-strapped state hospitals, mostly for children. He blamed what he described as an atmosphere of hate under the ruling Law and Justice party for the attack on the mayor.

President Andrzej Duda said that while he and the mayor have had political differences, "today I am unconditionally with him and his loved ones, just as - I hope - all of us compatriots are".

"I phoned my boss to let him know, he understood", another donor told the newspaper. "I pray for his swift recovery", the leader said.

Nearly seven hours after the assault, Stefaniak told reporters early Monday that "the patient is alive", triggering applause, but added that the mayor remained "in a very serious condition".

The suspect had previously been sentenced to more than five years in prison for four armed attacks on banks in Gdansk, justice officials confirmed.

Radio Gdansk reported that Mr Adamowicz was stabbed near his heart as the attacker shouted from the stage. "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?"

EU President Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, along with European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans and mayor of London Sadiq Khan also expressed their support for Adamowicz.

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