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Ukraine presidential aide Serhiy Shefir survives assassination attempt

Ukraine presidential aide Serhiy Shefir survives assassination attempt
Ukrainian presidential aide Sergei Shefir said he was traveling near village of Lesnyky when automatic gunfire from a nearby wooded area struck his vehicle at least 10 times. File Photo by Presidential Press Service/EPA-EFE

Sept. 22 (UPI) -- A top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky escaped an assassination attempt on Wednesday, but his driver was shot three times and critically injured, officials said.

Serhiy Shefir said he was traveling near village of Lesnyky on Wednesday when automatic gunfire from a nearby wooded area struck his vehicle at least 10 times.

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The driver's side of the vehicle took the entirety of the damage. Bullet holes were seen near the driver's side door, windshield and back tire.

"We were driving, suddenly shots were fired, the driver was injured. It was scary," Shefir said, according to the Kyiv Post. "In my opinion, the goal was to intimidate the highest echelons of power, but President Zelensky cannot be intimidated."

Shefir's driver was injured and underwent surgery. Officials said he's in critical condition.

Shefir was Zelensky's business partner for nearly 20 years before he became Ukraine's president last year. Zelensky was in New York City on Wednesday to deliver his address at the United Nations General Assembly.

"Saying 'hello' to me by shooting at my friend's car from the forest is a weakness, but the response will be strong," Zelensky said, according to the Post.

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It wasn't immediately clear who was behind the assassination attempt, but some have suspected Russian involvement, since Moscow and Kiev have been at odds for years over Crimea and parts of southeastern Ukraine.

Ukraine Prosecutor-General Irina Venediktova said an investigation is underway, according to Russia's state-run TASS news agency.

World leaders assemble at United Nations

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City on Saturday. Pool photo by Eduardo Munoz/UPI | License Photo

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