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Turkey: Gunman kills a pro-Kurdish HDP employee in attack on party office

The attack in Izmir comes as government's crackdown against the HDP intensified with a lawsuit seeking its disbandment
Supporters of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) attend a rally as part of Nowruz, or Kurdish New Year, celebrations in Ankara, on 21 March 2021 (AFP)
By Ragip Soylu in Ankara

A gunman killed an employee of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition party in Izmir, after attempting to set the party’s local building ablaze on Thursday, the HDP said in a statement.

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The assailant also fired rounds on the street from the building, causing panic and confusion. Turkish media reports said the police has taken him into custody.

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Izmir governor’s office said in a statement that a full investigation of the incident is underway. The statement did not offer details on the assailant's motivation.

The People’s Democracy Party, known as HDP, is the third-largest political party in the country.

“A gunman aged 35-40 years old raided our Izmir branch building while our party employee Deniz Poyraz was inside,” the HDP statement said. “Our comrade Deniz Poyraz was massacred, the assailant [also] fired shots outside and tried to set the building on fire.”

The HDP blamed the interior ministry and the Turkish government for inciting attacks against the party, its offices and members.

Serpil Kemalbay, an HDP MP from Izmir, said in televised remarks that the party has long been presented as an open target by the government and its supporters. "We automatically consider this an attack caused by the politicians since we are living under a ruling coalition infested by the mafia and gangs," she said. 

Earlier this month, Turkey’s chief prosecutor re-filed a lawsuit to disband HDP, accusing it of having links to the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK).

The PKK is designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the European Union. More than 40,000 people are estimated to have been killed in fighting between Turkish forces and the group since the 1980s.

The HDP, which has 55 seats in the 600-member parliament, has denied any links with the PKK.

Over the past two years, the Turkish government has launched a crackdown on the party, dismissing 50 HDP mayors from office, and detaining several party MPs and more than 7,000 of its members on terrorism charges.

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