Bullets hit Turkey’s opposition party office ahead of critical polls

ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey’s election campaign came under fire on Friday after shots were fired at the Istanbul office of the opposition Good Party, shattering the building’s windows.

Turkish authorities announced the suspect’s arrest later the same day. Identified as a night guard at a nearby construction site, the suspect told police he accidentally crashed into the party’s office building while chasing thieves who had entered the site. The investigation into the incident is ongoing, according to Turkish officials.

The party’s office was empty during the incident, which happened early Friday local time and fueled tension between the opposition and government officials.

Speaking early Friday, Good Party leader Meral Aksener linked the incident to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s inflammatory comments about him, saying it was aimed at intimidating the party ahead of the critical May 14 referendum.

“I’m not afraid, Mr. Recep,” said Aksener. “Efforts to scare the members of the political parties will not be accepted with only a month and a half to go to the elections. … We are not afraid, but this is a great injustice and insult to the electorate.”

Earlier this week, Erdogan mentioned Aksener’s criticism of him. “She’s messing with the wrong people. Be careful, don’t get in trouble with me,” Erdogan said.

Several opposition leaders, including main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, condemned the incident. But Erdogan remained silent on the incident while writing this article.

Instead, his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) condemned the incident but also disputed Aksener’s allegations.

Speaking before the arrest of the suspect, AKP Spokesman Omer Celik described the incident as a provocation. “We are doing our best to the Good Party,” Celik said, adding that “Aksener’s accusations in our president are irresponsible and provocative.”

Aksener is one of six leaders within the country’s six-party electoral bloc running against the Erdogan-led coalition.

The main election promise of the six-party alliance led by main contender Kilicdaroglu is to restore the parliamentary system, scrapping Erdogan’s executive presidential system introduced in 2017. Polls suggest a tight race between the two rival camps.

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