The leader of Turkey’s main opposition party has escaped injury after a security team travelling ahead of his motorcade was fired upon in the country’s northeast.
Interior Minister Efkan Ala confirmed that a security vehicle escorting Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was shot at in Artvin on Thursday afternoon.
A gendarmerie private was died after he was taken to the state hospital, the Governorate of Artvin said in a statement.
Two non-commissioned officers were also wounded as the convoy travelling from the Savsat district of the Black Sea province to Ardanuc came under fire.
Minister Ala, while commenting on the attack, said the separatist terrorist organization PKK was trying to get active in Black Sea Region.
"Recently, a terrorist was captured with a gun in Ordu [a city in Turkey's Black Sea Region]," Ala said.
Speaking on television after the incident, Kılıçdaroğlu said: “No-one needs to be worried about me. I am in good condition. We got out together with my friends from the area of conflict.”
Kılıçdaroğlu and his delegation were transferred to a secure area by police under strict security measures.
Artvin Governorate issued a statement saying that of the three injured gendarmes, two are in critical condition at Artvin State Hospital.
Speaking to reporters in Ankara, Minister Ala said Turkish security forces had launched an operation against the PKK.
"My friends told me certainly that [it is] the PKK, and the operation against them has started,” Ala said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, Turkish Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ each called Kılıçdaroğlu separately.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu also "strongly" condemned and "cursed" the attack and said: "The aim of both coup plotters and terrorists that target Turkey is to damage its unity and solidarity."
"Whatever the reason, we strongly condemn and curse this attack directed at Kılıçdaroğlu’s convoy.”
Çavuşoğlu said political parties would not change their positions against terrorism.
Turkey’s EU minister, Ömer Çelik, also condemned the attack via his official Twitter account:
"We condemn the attack directed at Kılıçdaroğlu’s convoy. There is no doubt that this attack was carried out on each of us. Sorry to hear what happened."