Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition leader Selahattin Demirtas has reportedly escaped an assassination attempt after his car was hit by a bullet, his party spokesman said. The HDP co-chairman was travelling in his official vehicle in the south-eastern province of Diyarbakir when the rear window of the bulletproof car was hit by a single bullet.
Demirtas, also dubbed the "Kurdish Obama" for his charismatic political skills, told Firat news agency that he noted the bullet dent only after he got out of the car. The vehicle was taken away by police for further analysis, but no bullet cartridge was found.
The pro-Kurdish party said Demirtas survived the assassination attempt "unharmed thanks to the bullet-proof vehicle". "Death is God's command," Demirtas tweeted after the incident.
However, the Diyarbakir governor's office denied that Demirtas had been the target of an assassination attempt. It said no indication had been found that the mark on the car was caused by "any kind of firearm" and claimed it had been produced by a "collision with a very hard object".
The statement said Demirtaş had been given police protection throughout his stay in Diyarbakır and during this time "no kind of attack against him or against his vehicle has been realised".
A charismatic, rising politician, Demirtas led the HDP in June elections to pass the threshold and enter Turkish parliament at expense of the ruling AKP, which lost its 13-year majority. After months of stagnating talks to form a coalition government, President Recep Erdogan called snap elections and intensified violence with the Kurds in an attempt to regain parliamentary majority by appealing to nationalist sentiment. The AK Party won back a majority but the HDP remained above the 10% threshold.
HDP supporters have been attacked three times over the past few months. In the worst attack in Turkey's modern history, more than 100 people, including several HDP key members, were killed in the Turkish capital Ankara by Islamic State (Isis) sympathisers.
A two-year ceasefire between the Kurdish militant group PKK and Turkey collapsed in July 2015. The PKK insurgency, largely fought in south-eastern Turkey, has killed some 40,000 people since 1984.
Demirtas' party had been a facilitator in the ceasefire negotiations, which angered nationalist Turks who demanded a harsher military crackdown on the Kurdish militants.