Turkish opposition leader escapes assassination attempt

Interior minister blames PKK for gun attack on Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s convoy near Artvin city that injured three soldiers.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu
The PKK has not immediately responded to the allegation [Emrah Gurel/AP]

Turkey’s main opposition party leader has survived an assassination attempt, escaping gunfire unharmed in the northeast of the country, the interior minister has said.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu was travelling along a road near the city of Artvin on Thursday when his convoy came under the attack from the woods.

Interior Minister Efkan Ala told Turkey’s NTV news channel that three soldiers were injured in the exchange of fire and an operation had been launched to pursue the attackers who he said were from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“Terrorists fired on members of the gendarmerie who were protecting the convoy. One was seriously wounded and two were slightly hurt,” he said.

The Kurdish armed group has not immediately responded to the allegation.

NTV and CNN Turk broadcast images of police firing at the alleged attackers.

“Don’t worry about us. We are ok. We are currently in a safe area,” Kilicdaroglu told Turkey’s NTV channel.

READ MORE: Timeline of attacks in Turkey

A Turkish official said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the prime minister had been briefed by the local governor about the incident.

The government has accused the PKK of a series of attacks this month in the southeast of Turkey, where the group has fought  for three decades.

The PKK have claimed responsibility for at least one of those attacks, which involved a strike on a police station.

More than 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK first took up arms in 1984 with the aim of carving out an independent state for Turkey’s Kurdish minority, although it now focuses more on rights and demands for greater autonomy.

Turkey, the European Union and the United States have labelled the PKK a “terrorist” group.

Source: Reuters