Turkish opposition leader attacked at soldier's funeral

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By Pascale Davies  with Reuters
Kemal Kilicdaroglu attacked by a man during a funeral ceremony near Ankara
Kemal Kilicdaroglu attacked by a man during a funeral ceremony near Ankara   -  Copyright  Harun Ozalp/Demiroren News Agency (DHA) via REUTERS

The leader of Turkey's main opposition party was attacked at a military funeral in Ankara on Sunday before being led away to safety by security guards in the latest conflict flare-up since local elections were contested three weeks ago.

Secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) chief Kemal Kilicdaroglu was pushed and shoved by an angry crowd. Several TV broadcasters showed video footage in which Kilicdaroglu was hit on the head at least twice.

Reuters- file
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader CHPReuters- file

Kilicdaroglu was attending the funeral for one of four Turkish soldiers killed on Friday in clashes with Kurdish PKK militants. The crowd shouted “PKK out,” according to broadcaster NTV.

Kilicdaroglu was shuffled through the crowd to a nearby house before being driven away in an armoured vehicle by police officers.

Ankara’s chief prosecutor, Yuksel Kocaman, said six attackers were identified and investigators are looking into whether the incident is terrorism related, according to state-run news agency Anadolu.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling AKP party has criticised Kilicdaroglu for his connections with the pro-Kurdish HDP party.

Erdogan has also warned that members of the outlawed PKK group, which Turkey, the EU, and the US deem a terrorist organisation, were among the CHP's list of candidates in local elections last month.

Erdogan's party has contested the results of the local polls, which saw the CHP win AKP strongholds Ankara and Istanbul.

The AKP wants the election results annulled in Istanbul, the country's commercial capital.

Turkey's High Election Board has not yet ruled out the two AKP petitions to cancel and re-run the vote in Istanbul but the CHP’s new Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu took up his post on Wednesday.