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Turkey opposition leader attacked at soldier’s funeral

By AFP - Apr 21,2019 - Last updated at Apr 21,2019

Chairman of the Republican People's Party Kemal Kilicdaroglu (centre) is protected by bodyguards after he was attacked by protesters on Sunday while attending a funeral ceremony in Ankara's Cubuk district for a soldier killed in fighting against Kurdish militants (AFP photo)

ISTANBUL — The leader of Turkey's main opposition party was attacked on Sunday at a funeral for a soldier killed fighting against Kurdish militants, a state news agency and his party said. 

Republican People's Party (CHP) chief Kemal Kilicdaroglu was taken to a nearby house by security forces for his protection, Anadolu state news agency said.

Video of the incident on social media showed a mob pushing and shoving around Kilicdaroglu as he makes his way through the crowd.

His party confirmed Kilicdaroglu had been attacked.

"Kilicdaroglu is at the CHP headquarters right now. He is fine," a party official said.

In a speech later outside CHP headquarters, Kilicdaroglu said the attack targeted Turkey's unity.

"The assailants have no respect for the martyr [dead soldier]," Kilicdaroglu told a crowd of around 1,000 supporters from the top of a bus.

"They are not geniune Muslims," he said.

He said he was not saddened by the attack and that it would not deter him from defending law and justice.

The group first protested against Kilicdaroglu's presence at the funeral in the Cubuk district of the capital Ankara and then attacked him with blows, Anadolu said.

The Ankara governor's office said in a statement: "legal action has been launched against the culprits of the incident."

The CHP last month won Ankara and Istanbul mayors' offices in local elections in a setback for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party.

Erodgan's AKP is appealing for a rerun of the Istanbul election, citing irregularities in the very tight race against the CHP candidate Ekrem Imamoglu.

Election authorites last week granted Imamoglu his mandate after carrying out a limited recount that showed he had won the city by a very slim margin of around 13,000 votes.

The party held Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu responsible for the attack because the minister said last year he had ordered the governors not to let CHP members to join martrys' funerals. 

"That's why he is found responsible for this provocation," a party official said. 

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