ISTANBUL: An unidentified gunman fired shots at the headquarters of Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party on Saturday, but there were no casualties in an attack the party and the government described as a provocation ahead of a June parliamentary election.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said in a statement the attacker had opened fire with a pump-action shotgun from a passing vehicle on its headquarters in the capital Ankara, damaging the building and the flags hung outside it.
Security camera footage carried by the private Dogan news agency showed a police officer emerging from a guard’s cabin in front of the building and opening fire with a hand gun on a small passenger car as it sped away.
“Those who think they can stop or intimidate us with such provocations will see they are mistaken,” the HDP said in a written statement. “We warn the government to achieve election security and expect the perpetrators to be caught immediately.”
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan condemned the attack and also described it as a provocation.
“Dirty hands come into play during election periods and try to create provocations and increase tension,” he was quoted as saying by state-run Anatolian news agency.
Akdogan is a key figure in a two-year-old peace process between Ankara and jailed militant leader Abdullah Ocalan to end his Kurdistan Workers Party’s (PKK) 30-year-old insurgency in which 40,000 people have been killed.
The HDP is also central to the talks, shuttling between Ankara, Ocalan’s island jail and the PKK bases in northern Iraq. The talks have attracted fierce opposition from Turkish nationalists.
The HDP aims to exceed a threshold of 10 percent of the vote needed to enter parliament in the June 7 election and opinion polls indicate its support is currently around that level.