UPDATE 3 – Armed attack on ruling party kills 4 in Turkey

ADDS REMARKS FROM ERDOGAN, YILDIRIM, JUSTICE MINISTER; UPDATES DEATH TOLL

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 four people dead and eight 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.

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 and the discussion turned into a fight.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said security forces and the judiciary will definitely find whoever is behind the incident.

“This is the most obvious example of the fact that the PKK and HDP [Peoples' Democratic Party] have not been able to abandon their growth strategies of feeding on the Kurds' blood," he said.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim blamed terrorist group PKK over the deadly attack.

“There are police records that the perpetrators or suspects are PKK sympathizers,” said Yildirim in a live interview to broadcaster TRT Haber.

Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul condemned the incident and announced a probe into the case.

"Both judicial and administrative investigations have been launched. The Sanliurfa Public Prosecutor's Office is extensively investigating whoever is guilty, how the incident happened. We will be following it too," Gul said.

Extending her condolences, Turkish Family and Social Affairs Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya said four of the wounded were Yildiz’s older brothers.

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.

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.

The PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU — resumed its armed campaign against Turkey in July 2015.

Since then, it has been responsible for the deaths of more than 1,200 Turkish security personnel and civilians, including a number of women and children.

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