ISTANBUL: Nationalist protesters stormed the local headquarters of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in the central Turkish city of Kayseri and several other Turkish cities after an attack that left 14 soldiers dead.
With the government pointing the finger at the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for the attack earlier in Kayseri, the protesters yesterday took out their anger on the HDP in a string of revenge attacks. In Kayseri, protesters broke into the building where the HDP office is located, scattering papers and furniture on the street and removing the HDP sign from the entrance, images taken by the Dogan news agency showed.
A group then ascended to the top of the building, setting off a fire and draping from the top a giant red flag with three crescent moons, the insignia of right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The HDP said similar attacks also took place on its offices in seven districts in Istanbul as well as branches in the cities of Erzincan, Ankara and Canakkale, and the town of Darica east of Istanbul.
Pictures showed chaos in its offices in the Kartal district on the Asian side of Istanbul, with furniture and papers strewn on the floor. Meanwhile reports said there was an explosion at HDP offices in the Beylikduzu district of Istanbul, although there were no casualties. In a statement, the HDP accused the authorities of turning a blind eye to the attacks. "Those who fail to take measures to prevent these attacks give an opportunity for provocations," it said, while urging caution from its own supporters.
The government has said the outlawed PKK, which is fighting a bitter insurgency against the Turkish security forces in the southeast, was likely behind the attack earlier that left 14 Turkish soldiers dead. The HDP denies any links to the PKK but the government accuses the party of being the political front of the militants.
Several HDP MPs including its co-leaders are currently under arrest over alleged links to the PKK. The HDP earlier condemned the attack on the soldiers "in the strongest possible terms". But it added: "We have long passed the stage of settling with messages of condemnation. We all must stand together for peace, democracy, justice and freedom against violence, to end this pain." Turkish media said that yesterday's protesters in Kayseri were supporters of the Grey Wolves, a militant wing of the MHP who were hugely prominent in the 1980s and 1990s.
Kayseri is seen as one of the strongholds of the nationalist party in Turkey, although the ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) has made inroads there in recent years. Meanwhile, angry right-wing protesters also attacked an outdoor meeting of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) in central Kayseri, the Hurriyet daily said.