2 ruling party officials shot dead in Turkey

2 ruling party officials shot dead in Turkey

Thousands of supporters hold a 1 100 meters-long national flag as they follow Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party, on the 17th day of his 425-kilometer (265-mile) march in Sakarya, some 220 kilometers from the capital Ankara. — AFP

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s official news agency says two ruling party officials serving in district organizations have been shot and killed, and ruling party officials blamed Kurdish militants.

The Anadolu news agency says Orhan Mercan, a vice president of an AKP branch in the southeastern Diyarbakir province, died Saturday after being shot near his house. It says Aydin Ahi, who was serving as vice president for a party branch in the eastern province of Van, was killed late Saturday.

AKP officials decried the slayings, which they blamed on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

Minister Omer Celik tweeted Sunday that “terror is attacking our nation’s “political” institution.”

Energy Minister Berat Albayrak wrote on Twitter that Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants had killed both men.

The PKK took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984 and more than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been killed in the conflict. It is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union. —

A ceasefire between the Turkish state and the militants broke down in July 2015 and the southeast subsequently saw some of the worst violence since the insurgency began. — Agencies