(Bloomberg) -- Bullets were fired at a Turkish opposition party’s Istanbul office on Friday and its leader accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of stoking violence through his rhetoric.
The armed attack targeting IYI Party’s office drew a harsh rebuke from its leader Meral Aksener, who said “bullets were inspired by threats” coming from Erdogan.
Erdogan’s ruling AK Party said it condemned both the attack and the accusations against the president.
No one was harmed in the shooting and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said later that the perpetrator was caught. The gun was fired by a construction care taker who was trying to prevent a theft attempt, according to a police statement.
“There was an armed attack on our Istanbul provincial presidency, Mr Recep!” she said after the shooting, addressing the president with his first name, a sign of anger in Turkish. The attackers were emboldened by the president’s harsh words against the opposition, Aksener said.
Erdogan took aim at Aksener several times during a televised interview on Wednesday.
“Be careful about our name. My name is Tayyip. My surname is Erdogan. Be careful about Erdogan and the name Tayyip. Talk accordingly when you speak,” Erdogan said on TV while he was explicitly addressing Aksener. “Do not make me mess with you,” he said.
Aksener’s IYI Party is the second largest group in an anti-Erdogan alliance that will contest the president in elections on May 14. The Turkish president is facing a tough electoral race as his popularity has been rattled by devastating earthquakes that shook Turkey in February and a cost-of-living crisis that’s hitting wage earners.
Polls show it will be a close race between him and the main opposition bloc’s candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
Aksener is called a “she-wolf” by her nationalist supporters. She joined forces with the main opposition Republican People’s Party CHP in 2019 and played a key role in the victory against Erdogan’s ruling party at municipal elections the same year.
She “is a strong leader, a she-wolf,” Kilicdaroglu said in a Twitter post after the attack. “You cannot scare her like that.”
--With assistance from Inci Ozbek and Patrick Sykes.
(Updates with police statement in the fourth graph.)
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