ADDS DETAILS, CONDEMNATION; CHANGES LEDE
By Halil Fidan
SANLIURFA, Turkey (AA) – Members of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party on Thursday were attacked by an armed group in southeastern Turkey, leaving three people dead and nine injured.
Health Minister Ahmet Demircan said the members, including MP Ibrahim Halil Yildiz, were attacked while campaigning in Sanliurfa’s Suruc district ahead of the elections.
Demircan said police and an air ambulance were dispatched to the scene immediately.
Although Yildiz survived the attack with no injuries, his older brother Mehmet Ali Yildiz died after succumbing to his wounds at the hospital.
Sanliurfa Governorship said in a statement that Yildiz, accompanied by a group of people, was visiting tradesmen in the center of Suruc district as part of his election campaign.
“Three people died and nine others were injured when a discussion turned into a fight,” the statement added.
Two of the injured were in critical condition, the statement added.
Extending her condolences, Turkish Family and Social Affairs Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya said four of the wounded were Yildiz’s older brothers.
"This is a grave event. No matter what the cause is, nothing matters more than human life," Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said.
Presidential aide Ibrahim Kalin also strongly condemned the “heinous attack” and expressed his condolences on his Twitter account.
Kalin said: “The incident will be investigated and the perpetrators will be brought to justice.”
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the attack was planned before the visit took place.
A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions of speaking to media, claimed the attackers were members of opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu reacted to the attack, saying people should express their thoughts by voting in a democratic environment and not clashes.
This April, the parliament passed a bill for early elections on June 24, cementing Turkey’s move to a presidential system.