In this photo released by Telam news agency a man points a gun at Cristina Kirchner as she arrives to her residence in Buenos Aires on Thursday night. AFP
The man was quickly overpowered by her security officers in the incident on Thursday night, officials 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 FernÃ¡ndez 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.
Politicians on all sides in Argentina condemned the attack, which happened amid acute political tensions as the country sinks deeper into an economic crisis driven by runaway debt and inflation.
Horacio Rodriguez Larreta, the opposition mayor of Buenos Aires city, called it "a turning point in (our) democratic history," echoing similar comments by Alberto Fernandez in an overnight address and demanding swift justice for the perpetrator.
A man points a gun at Cristina Kirchner, with no shots fired, at the entrance of her's home in Buenos Aires. Reuters
Cabinet ministers issued a news release saying they "energetically condemn the attempted homicide" of the vice president. "What happened tonight is of extreme gravity and threatens democracy, institutions and the rule of law.â€ Regional leaders also condemned the attack.
Leaders around the region also denounced the attack. "It was deplorable, reprehensible, but at the same time, I'd say, miraculous, because she's fine," leftist Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said.
"We send our solidarity to the vice president in this attempt against her life,â€ Venezuelan President NicolÃ¡s Maduro said on Twitter.
Former Brazilian President Luiz InÃ¡cio Lula Da Silva, who is a candidate in that nationâ€™s presidential election next month, also expressed solidarity with FernÃ¡ndez, calling her a "victim of a fascist criminal who doesnâ€™t know how to respect differences and diversity.â€
The vice president did not appear to have suffered any injury, and the man was overpowered within seconds as he stood among a crowd of her supporters.
Gina De Bai, a witness who was near the vice president during the incident, said she heard "the sound of the trigger being pulled.â€ She said she didnâ€™t realise it was a handgun until the man was rushed by security personnel.
President FernÃ¡ndez called it "the most serious incident since we recovered democracyâ€ in 1983 after a military dictatorship and urged political leaders, and society at large, to repudiate the attempted shooting.
The attack came as the vice president is facing a trial for alleged acts of corruption during her 2007-2015 presidency - charges that she vehemently denies and that have led her supporters to surround her home in the upscale Recoleta neighborhood of Argentinaâ€™s capital.
Video broadcast on local television channels showed Cristina Kirchner exiting her vehicle surrounded by supporters when a man is seen extending his hand with what looks like a pistol. The vice president ducks as people around the apparent gunman appear shocked at what is happening. Unverified video posted on social media shows the pistol almost touched Kirchnerâ€™s face.
The alleged gunman was identified as Fernando AndrÃ© Sabag Montiel, a Brazilian citizen, said an official at the Security Ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He does not have a criminal record, the official said, adding that the weapon was a .32-caliber Bersa.
The president declared Friday a holiday "so the Argentine people can, in peace and harmony, express itself in defense of life, democracy and in solidarity with our vice president."
AP / AFP