Former Catalan politician shot in face in Madrid

MADRID (Reuters) -The former head of Spain’s centre-right People’s Party in the Catalonia region was shot in the face in the Spanish capital Madrid on Thursday, police said.

Alejo Vidal-Quadras was shot in the wealthy Salamanca area of central Madrid at about 1.30 p.m. and taken to hospital.

Hospital authorities said his life was not in danger.

Police were hunting a gunman and an accomplice who drew up near Vidal-Quadras on a black Yamaha motorcycle, shot him, then drove off.

Rescue workers said a bullet passed through Vidal-Quadras’ jaw.

A torched motorcycle police believe was used in the attack was later found. No arrests have been made. Police told Reuters no motive had been established for the attack.

Vidal-Quadras, 78, was a former head of the centre-right People’s Party (PP) in Catalonia and a founder of Spain’s far-right Vox party. He also served as European Parliament vice-president between 2009 and 2014.

Spanish politicians including the PP leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo and Vox leader Santiago Abascal expressed their shock and sadness at the attack and, with Spain’s Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, called for a thorough investigation and swift arrests.

“All my affection at this time for Alejo Vidal-Quadras and his family,” Sanchez posted on social media.

Italy’s right-wing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said in a statement Vidal-Quadras was the victim of a “cowardly attack” and wished him a speedy and full recovery, while condemning “an act of unacceptable violence, perpetrated against a political representative of an important European nation.”

Shahin Gobadi, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, said in a statement on Thursday that Vidal-Quadras has been a staunch supporter of the Iranian opposition movement and fight for human rights in Iran over the past 25 years.

(Reporting by Graham Keeley; additional reporting Inti Landauro, Alvise Armellini Editing by Angus MacSwan, Jon Boyle and Daniel Wallis)