Main opposition accuses Turkish authorities of turning blind eye to attack against CHP leader
Updated with new information
The leader of Turkey’s secularist main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has been attacked by a group of people at a military funeral in Ankara.
CHP Deputy Chairman said there were several security forces alongside with the police commissioner and the provincial police chief but they did not intend to avoid the attack, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported on Sunday.
"None of them tried to protect us. The director general of public security was there. The provincial police chief was also there. There were many people dressed as police or gendarmerie. But none of them attempted to protect us," said Yıldırım Kaya. The interior minister, who previously called people not to allow CHP politicians to attend to the military funerals, must resign, he added.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was attending the funeral of 26-year-old infantryman Yener Kırıkçı on Sunday alongside the new CHP mayor of Ankara, Mansur Yavaş.
Kırıkçı was one of four Turkish soldiers killed on Friday during an operation against Kurdish militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on Turkey’s border with Iraq.
Kılıçdaroğlu was booed by a group of people at the funeral and then attacked afterwards as security personnel led him through the crowds, local news reports state.
The CHP leader has been taken to a house by police, but it was unable to leave due to the crowds surrounding it, Turkish news site T24 reported at 2:01 p.m. local time (GMT+2). The crowds have thrown stones at the house, the news site reported.
Riot police have been deployed to support the gendarmerie officers at the scene, NTV journalist Gökhan Gerçek said in a tweet.
At 3:10 p.m. leftist daily BirGün shared footage of a mob around the house. A member of the crowd can be heard threatening to burn it.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan repeatedly accused Kılıçdaroğlu and other opposition leaders of supporting the PKK in the run up to the local election on March 31.
The pro-government daily Güneş led with a headline on Sunday blaming the deaths of the soldiers on the CHP's new mayor of Istanbul.
At 4:44 p.m. the governorate of Ankara said on Twitter that all necessary precautions were taken to stop the attack and an investigation into the incident had been launched.
At 5:15 p.m. the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesman Ömer Çelik slammed the attack on Twitter. Çelik said no one can violate the law and the perpetrators would be brought into justice. "Violence is not a way of protest or claiming rights." Çelik tweeted.
Another statement into the aggression came from Turkey's Minister of Justice Abdülhamit Gül. The minister denounced the attack and said they would never let any kind of violence overshadow democracy.
At 5:20 p.m. Kılıçdaroğlu was evacuated by armoured vehicle from the house in Çubuk district where he sheltered after the attack, Turkish media reported. The director general of public security, Celal Uzunkaya, accompanied Kılıçdaroğlu with his car. Kılıçdaroğlu arrived CHP headquarters in Ankara around 6:30 p.m.
AKP Istanbul lawmaker Mustafa Şentop also denounced the attack against the CHP leader on Twitter. "Trying to obtain political gains by force or praising violence is a primitive and vain effort," Şentop tweeted.
The CHP supporters gathered in front of the party's headquarters and have been protesting the aggression after Kılıçdaroğlu arrived at the building. The crowds slammed the interior minister Süleyman Soylu and shouted for his resignation.
Last year, following the general election on June 24, Soylu requested people not to welcome the CHP representatives to the military funerals as accusing the party of making an alliance with pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party in the elections, which was linked to the PKK by several AKP officials.
Hours after the attack, CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu spoke to the crowds gathered in front of the party's headquarters in Ankara. Kılıçdaroğlu said he would never step back despite all the aggression, Turkish news site Artı Gerçek reported on Sunday.
"Do you know the reason behind these attacks? For the first time, CHP fought for peace and tranquillity to prevail in this country. People from different political backgrounds came together for solidarity and the unity of the country." Kılıçdaroğlu said. "They think if we attack Kılıçdaroğlu, he may give up. We will never give up no matter what you do."
Party of European Socialists posted a tweet supporting CHP leader after violent attack.
At 8:20 p.m. the ministry of defence released a written statement and said the defence minister Hulusi Akar spread efforts to steady the crowds, according to Turkish news site HaberTürk. But, Akar was severely criticised on social media for telling the crowds that "the message" was given to the CHP leader.