Blanks fired at Turkish prime minister's office

AP News
Posted: Nov 05, 2012 10:27 AM
Blanks fired at Turkish prime minister's office

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish police detained a man who fired three blanks inside a building housing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office on Monday, in a shooting which officials suggested was not politically-motivated.

Erdogan was presiding over a Council of Ministers meeting when the man fired the shots at a security check point just past the visitors' entrance to the building, the state-run Anadolu Agency and other media reported. The suspect was quickly subdued and was being questioned by police.

It was not clear how the shooter managed to enter the heavily protected complex with the gun.

The incident comes amid a surge of attacks by Kurdish rebels who are fighting for self-rule for minority Kurds in southeast Turkey, as well as an increase in tensions with neighboring Syria.

But Anadolu, citing unnamed sources at the prime minister's office, suggested the incident was not politically-motivated.

It identified the suspect as 34-year-old Nuri Baskapan, said he had frequently written to government officials about "personal problems" and had attempted "similar acts" in the past to try and draw attention to his grief.

The private Dogan news agency said Baskapan was made redundant from a municipality job and was seeking assistance from government officials concerning a dispute over his compensation payment.

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Erdogan's spokesman and security officials at the prime minister's office were not available for comment.

Despite the shooting, the ministers continued with their meeting that was scheduled to include discussions about a hunger strike by more than 600 Kurdish inmates who are demanding increased rights for Kurds as well as improved jail conditions for Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is serving a life sentence on a prison island near Istanbul.

Erdogan says Ocalan's outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, is orchestrating the hunger strike.