Man points gun at leader of Bulgaria's Turkish party

SOFIA Sat Jan 19, 2013 8:29am EST

1 of 7. An unidentified man (R) attacks Ahmed Dogan, leader of Bulgaria's Movement for Rights and Freedom (MRF) party, as he delivers his speech during his party's annual conference at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia in this still image taken from video footage on January 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Nikola Stoyanov/Bnews

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SOFIA (Reuters) - A man jumped on stage and pointed a gun at the leader of Bulgaria's ethnic Turkish party before security guards wrestled him to the ground during a televised conference on Saturday.

Ahmed Dogan, the long-time leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) escaped unscathed, and it was not immediately clear why the attacker had targeted him at the party congress in downtown Sofia.

Television footage showed the man jumping out of the audience and interrupting a speech by 58-year-old Dogan, who has led the party for almost a quarter of a century. Security guards were seen beating and kicking the attacker.

"Ahmed Dogan is in good health. Everything is under control," MRF official Ceyhan Ibryamov told journalists.

Police said they had arrested a 25-year-old man from the Black Sea town of Burgas who was also carrying two knives.

The liberal MRF party represents ethnic Turks and other Muslims who make up about 12 percent of Bulgaria's 7.3 million-strong population.

Dogan is seen as one of Balkan country's most influential political figures. The MRF was a junior partner in the previous Socialist-led cabinet.

In 1996, former Prime Minister Andrei Lukanov was found shot dead near his home in Sofia, though attacks on politicians are rare.

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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