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Turkey’s Kurdish party headquarters attacked, no casualties

The incident fueled the tense run-up to the elections in which the HDP is for the first time trying to clear the 10 percent threshold for entering parliament

Published: Updated:

Unidentified assailants opened fire early Saturday on Turkey’s main Kurdish party headquarters in the capital Ankara, raising tensions ahead of legislative elections in June, but with no casualties reported.

“The attackers fired with rifles at the party headquarters at 4:05 am from a passing car,” an official from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Security guards protecting the building fired back and the assailants fled in the car, according to the official. State-run TRT television reported that two suspects had been detained.

HDP lawmaker Sirri Sureyya Onder called the attack a “provocation” in the run up to the June 7 legislative polls. “We will not yield,” he tweeted.

The government also condemned the attack, with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu assuring that “everything is being done to capture those responsible.”

“I condemn the attack targeting the HDP,” Davutoglu wrote on Twitter.

“It is clear that like previous ones, this attack takes an aim at our democracy and stability,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan referred to “dirty hands” trying to “create provocation and stir up tensions”.

The incident fueled the tense run-up to the elections in which the HDP is for the first time trying to clear the 10 percent threshold for entering parliament as a party under proportional representation.

Far-reaching consequences

Success for the HDP could have far-reaching consequences for the country, by preventing the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) bid to win a big enough majority to be able to change the constitution and create a presidential system.

To make those changes, the AKP would need the support of two-thirds of parliament’s 550 members.

The party currently has 312 seats in the body. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has appealed to his supporters to help elect 400 AKP lawmakers in June’s vote, giving him the backing to rewrite the constitution -- and assume full executive powers himself.

In an interview with AFP this month, the HDP’s co-chair Selahattin Demirtas said his party hoped to turn Erdogan’s political calculations “upside down” while accusing the Turkish strongman of seeking “constitutional dictatorship”.

Onder, who later visited the party building in the Cankaya district, said the attack was an attempt to discredit the HDP party and prevent it from clearing the 10 percent threshold.

“We are determined to insistently advocate peace and democratic policies,” he told reporters.