DIYARBAKIR, July 14 Five people including three
police were wounded in southeastern Turkey, a pro-government
mayor said on Monday, when suspected Kurdish militants attacked
his car as he returned from a presidential campaign rally for
prime minister Tayyip Erdogan.
Mayor Menderes Atilla said a car bomb detonated as his car
drove through Ceylanpinar town in Sanliurfa province late on
Sunday, injuring the policemen. Attackers then opened fire,
causing minor injuries to his driver and a bodyguard.
"There was a blast from a car loaded with explosives... as I
was returning from the prime minister's rally. We came under
fire from another car by gunmen using long-barreled weapons. The
gunmen's car left the scene after firing a few rounds," Atilla
told reporters, adding he believed militants from the outlawed
Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) were behind the ambush.
There has been no word from the PKK since the attack, but if
their involvement is confirmed it would be a blow to efforts
aimed at bringing an end to a thirty-year insurgency, which has
haunted the south east and left an estimated 40,000 people dead.
Only last week parliament passed a bill legally recognising
for the first time the government's negotiations to bring a
permanent halt to hostilities with PKK fighters, who have for
decades been demanding greater autonomy and rights from
Erdogan is campaigning to become Turkey's first directly
elected president in the August 10 election, a position that
could give him stronger executive powers to pursue his political
plans. He hopes his efforts to end the insurgency will earn him
significant support from Turkey's Kurdish minority.
Sanliurfa province could be a key electoral battleground in
the coming weeks. Erdogan's ruling AK Party narrowly won local
polls there in March, but the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy
Party (BDP) contested the result, stirring a week of violent
clashes between BDP supporters and security forces.
(Reporting by Seyhmus Cakan, Writing by Ece Toksabay; Editing
by Jonny Hogg and Ralph Boulton)