A grenade and gunfire attack in northern Turkey on Wednesday killed a policeman escorting ruling party officials from a rally addressed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, media reports said.
The hand grenade was hurled at a police car escorting a bus carrying the officials from Erdogan’s election rally in Kastamonu and was followed by gunfire that killed one policeman and injured another, NTV news channel said.
The governor of Kastamonu, Erdogan Bektas, told Anatolia news agency that the injured police officer was wounded while he was responding to the shooting.
Erdogan had left Kastamonu by helicopter for another rally in nearby Amasya City when the attack happened, while the bus was carrying officials from his Justice and Development Party back to Ankara.
The attack occurred on a highway, at a distance of 25km from Kastamonu, Anatolia reported. Security officials found 22 shell casings at the scene, Anatolia said.
“Those craven hands, minds with no trust in democracy, those who understood that they would not win the ballot, believe that they can succeed by this way,” Anatolia quoted Erdogan as saying in Amasya.
Turkey prepares for parliamentary elections on June 12, in which Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted party seeks a third term in office.
“This is an incident we should take very seriously. Turkey will not surrender to terror and not forgive those who are involved in terrorist acts. Turkey will struggle against terror till the end,” Turkish President Abdullah Gul said in televised remarks.
The police car was gutted in the attack, TV footage showed, while military units were hunting the assailants who are believed to have run into a nearby forest, NTV said.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou expressed his sympathy to Erdogan after the attack, in a message to his Turkish counterpart, Anatolia news agency reported.
The violence will not stop Turkey on its way towards development and wealth, Papandreou said, expressing his condolences for the death of the police officer, Anatolia said.