Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will sue opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu after he compared him to Syria’s embattled president over deadly bombings near the border, media reported Saturday.
“We will not allow anyone to call the prime minister of the Turkish Republic a ‘murderer’,” Erdogan was quoted as saying by the Vatan newspaper during a visit to Washington.
“I’ve already forwarded the matter to my lawyers,” he said.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kilicdaroglu said on Wednesday there was no difference between Erdogan and Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. He held the Turkish premier accountable for the loss of lives in the border town of Reyhanli.
“The murderer of the 51 people who died in Reyhanli is Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He is responsible for that,” Kilicdaroglu told reporters in Brussels after a press briefing with the European Parliament’s Socialist group leader Hannes Swoboda.
The CHP leader’s remarks caused uneasiness in Brussels and Swoboda reportedly cancelled a second meeting with Kilicdaroglu scheduled later in the day.
The bombings were the deadliest incident on Turkish soil since the start of the Syrian civil war in March 2011, in what observers see as a sign of the growing regional impact of a crisis that has already cost some 94,000 lives.
Ankara blames the Syrian regime for the bombings but Damascus denies any involvement.
Turkey, a vocal critic of Assad’s regime, currently hosts some 400,000 refugees from its neighbor, as well as rebels and army defectors fighting to topple Assad’s regime.
The latest attacks also provoked anger in the border town with critics accusing Erdogan’s government of putting the lives of Turkish citizens at risk through its own policies in the Syrian civil war.