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Prominent Kurdish lawyer shot dead in southeast Turkey

The president of the bar association in southeastern Diyarbakir province has been shot dead by unidentified gunmen while giving a public speech.

A campaigner for Kurdish rights, Tahir Elci had been criticized for challenging Turkey’s official stance of calling the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) a terrorist organization.

 

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After making comments about PKK on CNN Turk TV in October, Elci was detained. He was subsequently released and had been awaiting trial.

The killing took place while Tahir Elci was making a statement to the media. According to the state Anadolu news agency, it was Kurdish insurgents that opened fire, killing Elci, as well as a police officer, and injuring three other people, among them correspondents of the leading Turkish media organizations – the Anatolia and Dogan news agencies.

Two policemen were also killed in the attack, officials said, adding that one officer had been shot dead on the spot while another died of his injuries later in hospital.

A gun battle erupted after gunfire was opened at police from an unidentified car, Interior Minister Efkan Ala told the media. The official did not mention if anyone had been detained, Reuters reported.

The attack in which Elci was killed might be “an assassination,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Saturday in a televised speech, Hurriyet Daily News reported. But “there are two possibilities,” the PM added, saying that the other might be an accident, with the lawyer having been caught in an exchange of fire between security forces and attackers.

A curfew was declared in the region.

Istanbul police fire tear gas, water cannon at protest over killing of top Kurdish lawyer

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