ANKARA (Reuters) - Simultaneous bomb blasts hit the offices of a pro-Kurdish party in two cities in southern Turkey on Monday, three weeks before a parliamentary election, attacks which a party leader blamed on President Tayyip Erdogan.
The explosion in Adana wounded six people and appeared to have been caused by a package sent to the office of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), a party official said. No one was wounded by the bomb in nearby Mersin, thought to have been concealed in flowers delivered to HDP’s offices.
Addressing a rally in Mersin hours after the blasts, joint HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas described the attacks as an attempted massacre and said they were meant to send a political message ahead of the June 7 general election.
“To those who tried to send us a message through their attacks in Mersin and Adana: We have received your message. And we will still not allow you to be president,” he said, referring to Erdogan’s hope that the vote will pave the way for him to gain sweeping new executive powers.
Footage broadcast by CNN Turk showed windows smashed in a three-storey building, with broken glass and rubble covering the street. One man was seen sitting on a kerb with blood on his head close to the Adana explosion.
HDP officials said the blasts were the latest in a string of some 60 assaults against the party in the run-up to polling day.
Turkish nationalists are fiercely opposed to HDP, accusing it of links to the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought a 30-year insurgency against the state in which 40,000 people have been killed. A peace process designed to end the conflict is in progress.
“Will you give the appropriate answer to the political party which is run by the terrorist organization on June 7?” Erdogan said in a speech in the Black Sea coastal city of Samsun on Monday, apparently eyeing the nationalist vote.
Although the ruling AKP is on course to remain the largest party, the fate of the HDP on voting day is seen as crucial to Erdogan’s chances of getting the presidential powers he craves.
If HDP fail to reach a 10 percent threshold to enter parliament their votes would be re-distributed, mostly in favor of the AKP, possibly giving Erdogan more parliamentary clout.
If HDP reach 10 percent, Erdogan might need their backing for constitutional changes, something Demirtas has repeatedly vowed not to do. Polls show them close to the cut-off.
Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk in Istanbul; Writing by Daren Butler and Nick Tattersall; Editing by Jonny Hogg and Dominic Evans