Sunday 15 September 2019

Crowd attacks leader of Turkey's opposition at soldier's funeral

Security team surrounds main opposition party leader. Photo: Reuters
Security team surrounds main opposition party leader. Photo: Reuters

Jonathan Spicer

THE leader of Turkey's main opposition party was attacked at a soldier's funeral in Ankara before security guards led him away, in the latest fallout from contested local elections three weeks ago.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the secularist Republican People's Party (CHP) that pulled off victories in the March 31 vote, had attended a funeral for one of four Turkish soldiers killed on Friday in clashes with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose party wants the election results annulled in Istanbul, had repeatedly warned during last month's campaign that PKK members were among the CHP's list of candidates.

The PKK clashes in the country's south-east on Friday prompted several pro-government newspapers to tie the soldiers' deaths to the CHP.

"PKK out" was among the slogans shouted at Mr Kilicdaroglu yesterday, according to footage of the incident.

Several TV broadcasters showed video in which Mr Kilicdaroglu was hit on the head at least twice as a clutch of security guards and a police officer attempted to keep dozens of fist-pumping men away, some of whom were shouting "shame on you" and "God damn you".

Mr Kilicdaroglu edged through the crowd to a nearby house, outside of which a crowd chanted "PKK out", according to broadcaster NTV. More than an hour later he was driven away in an armoured vehicle by police.

"They don't want me to go to our martyrs' funerals," Mr Kilicdaroglu, who had been attacked after a funeral in 2016, told supporters outside his party's headquarters.

"They think I will step back if they attack me. I will not even take one step back," he said.

Ankara's chief prosecutor said six attackers were identified, according to state-run news agency Anadolu.

"The incident is under control," said Suleyman Soylu, Turkey's interior minister.

Initial results and a series of recounts showed that the CHP's mayoral candidates in Ankara and Istanbul defeated those from Mr Erdogna's AK Party (AKP). Yet the AKP has submitted two petitions to cancel and re-run the vote in Istanbul, citing irregularities and illegal votes and voters.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News