ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Unidentified assailants fired on a campaign minibus of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey’s southeast on Wednesday, killing the driver, local media reported, only days ahead of a crucial general election.
Security forces found the driver of the bus dead around 200 meters ahead of the vehicle on a motorway around the town of Karliova, 70 km (45 miles) northeast of Bingol province, Turkey’s Dogan News agency reported.
The minibus was shot at several times, and initial investigation of the security forces showed that the driver was killed by a firearm, Dogan news agency said.
The incident was not the first time the HDP had come under attack during the election campaigning period. Simultaneous bomb blasts hit the offices of the party in two southern Turkish cities in mid-May, wounding six people.
HDP officials have said there have been dozens of assaults against the party in the run-up to polling day.
Critics of the party, particularly Turkish nationalists, accuse 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.
Turkey’s ruling AK Party is on course to remain the largest party in June 7 elections.
But the HDP is attempting to widen its support base beyond its core Kurdish backers, appealing to center-left sympathizers in an effort to clear a 10 percent threshold for entry to the assembly.
If it does so, it will deal a serious blow to the ruling AKP party’s hopes of gaining a majority large enough to change the constitution and provide President Tayyip Erdogan with the sweeping executive powers he seeks.
Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; editing by Ralph Boulton