This handout picture taken and released on August 25, 2016, by the Republican People’s Party (CHP) Press Service shows Turkish police officers and security forces protecting CHP’s leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu (C) after his convoy was attacked by Kurdish militants. ©AFP
Kurdish militants have opened fire on a motorcade escorting Turkey
’s main opposition party leader in the country’s northeast, but the official has escaped unharmed.
The convoy of vehicles transporting Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of the Republican People’s Party, also known as the CHP, was attacked on Thursday while it was driving through the province of Artvin.
In televised comments, Turkey’s Interior Minister Efkan Ala blamed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) for the Thursday ambush. He said security forces immediately began an operation to pursue the assailants.
“Terrorists fired on members of the gendarmerie who were protecting the convoy,” Ala said, adding that three Turkish troops were wounded in the assault.
“There is no problem, we are fine, don’t worry,” Kilicdaroglu told CNN-Turk television by telephone.
Turkey’s opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu (C) speaks on his mobile phone after an attack against his convoy in Artvin, Turkey, August 25, 2016. ©Reuters
Ozgur Ozel, a senior CHP official and legislator, described the attack as an “assassination attempt” that targeted “both democracy and a party leader who stands against terrorism.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also condemned the assault “regardless of its motives.”
“Neither other political parties nor our party would change its stance in the face of such attacks,” the Turkish foreign minister stated.
The PKK is fighting for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey’s southeast. A shaky ceasefire between Ankara and the PKK that had stood since 2013 was declared null and void by the militants following Turkish strikes against the group.
Turkey’s operations began in the wake of a deadly July 2015 bombing in the southern town of Suruc, which the Turkish government blamed on the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.
After the bombing, PKK militants, who accuse Ankara of supporting Daesh, engaged in a series of reprisal attacks against Turkish police and security forces, prompting the Turkish military operations.
According to a latest toll given by the state-run Anadolu news
agency, more than 600 members of Turkish security forces and over 7,000 PKK militants have been killed since the collapse of the truce.