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Middle East

Man storms Pro-Kurdish party office in Turkey, kills woman

3 minute read

ANKARA, June 17 (Reuters) - A man stormed a local office of Turkey's main Pro-Kurdish party and shot dead a 20-year-old woman in the western city of Izmir on Thursday, prompting the party to blame a public government crackdown on it which has intensified this year.

The Izmir governor's office said the assailant, a former health worker in his late 20s, stormed the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) office and shot Deniz Poyraz. The HDP said she had been covering a shift for her mother at the office.

Media reported that the suspect, identified by local police as Onur Gencer, had tried to set the building on fire before killing Poyraz, and said in a statement to police that he carried out the attack out of hate for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group.

Turkey's third largest party, the HDP has come under renewed pressure in recent months with the nationalist allies of President Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party calling for it to be banned over alleged ties to the PKK.

The HDP denies any links to militants.

"The instigator and abettor of this brutal attack is the AKP-MHP government and the Interior Ministry, which constantly targets our party and our members," the HDP said on its website.

In a statement on Twitter, ruling AK Party spokesman Omer Celik condemned the attack and said Turkey "would never allow such provocations to disturb its peace."

A top prosecutor has opened a case to shutter the HDP, which has 55 seats in the 600-member parliament, while its former leader and several hundred other party members are behind bars. read more

The grieving mother of Poyraz cried "give us a rest" and blamed "fascists" for the killing, video footage showed. The HDP said her daughter covered her shift due to health reasons.

The PKK is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union. It has fought an insurgency against the state in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey since 1984. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Jonathan Spicer

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