The leader of Turkey’s main opposition party escaped unharmed after his motorcade was fired upon as they were driving in the Black Sea region on 25 August.
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was making his way to Ardanuç, in Artwin, northeast Turkey, for the opening of a new building when he came under attack. A security team escorting the Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader responded and a soldier, Fatih Çaybaşı, was shot in the head during the exchange of fire. He later died in hospital. Two other officers were also wounded.
Security forces first spotted the militants on a hilltop as they were passing through a forested area near the village of Yanıklı. The militants shot at troops exiting their vehicles to protect Kılıçdaroğlu and his team on board the CHP bus. Security forces fired back, killing at least one militant just as he was preparing to launch a rocket attack on the motorcade.
Kılıçdaroğlu and his team experienced a second attack as they tried to retreat to Şavşat district. The opposition leader was able to escape in a military armed vehicle, escorted by troops, to the Şavşat Governor’s Office.
He later posted on his party’s website: “There is one life that God gave. May it be sacrificed for this country and nation. We might have different political views but it is the duty of us all to fight together against terror.”
Security for Kılıçdaroğlu has been increased after intelligence reports warned of a possible assassination attempt.
Interior Minister Efkan Ala blamed the attack on PKK militants. If so, it marked the first time the group has targeted an opposition leader.
Other commentators believe the Kılıçdaroğlu ambush was not directly down to the PKK, which lacks support in the Black Sea region, but by its new strategic ally, the Peoples’ United Revolutionary Movement (HBDH).
In an article explaining why Kılıçdaroğlu is now a target for Turkish terror groups, Hürriyet’s Murat Yetkin says HBDH was formed in March this year when the PKK formed a pact with nine militant left-wing Turkish groups. The HBDH is known to be active in the eastern Black Sea region and Yetkin believes it is more likely this group “carried out the attack on behalf of the PKK.”
The PKK is a terrorist organisation that has been waging war against Turkey for the past three decades in a bid to create an independent state for Kurds. Their deadly campaign has left over 40,000 people dead.