German-Turkish footballer says shot at on highway in western Germany

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Striker Deniz Naki AFP PHOTO / PATRIK STOLLARZ /

German footballer Deniz Naki on Monday said his car was shot at while driving on a highway in western Germany, Deutsche Welle reported.

Naki, who plays for a Kurdish club and has spoken out against the Turkish government, said he “feared for his life.”

The soccer player with Turkish-Kurdish roots said he was shot at while driving on the A4 Autobahn near the western German town of Düren.

Naki, who currently plays for a Kurdish team, told German newspaper die Welt that he had been driving in the far-right lane on the highway on Sunday night when he “suddenly heard shots.” He said the shots came from a black car driving in the left lane.

“I immediately ducked and then rolled right to the hard shoulder,” the 28-year-old told Welt. “I feared for my life.”

Welt reporter Ibrahim Naber posted pictures Naki took of his car after the shooting, showing damage to one of the car’s windows as well as in the vicinity of a tire and identifying what appeared to be a piece of metal lodged in the glass as a “bullet.”

Naki was unharmed in the shooting and reported the incident immediately to police.

The Aachen police, who are investigating the case, said a car had been fired at on the A4 but declined to confirm Naki was the driver. A police spokesperson told news agency DPA that the prosecutor’s office in Aachen was investigating it as an attempted homicide.

Naki, who has been outspoken about military operations against Turkey’s Kurds by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government , said he believed the attack was politically motivated.

“I think this is about a political issue,” Naki told Spiegel magazine’s online platform Bento. “I am a continual target in Turkey because I make pro-Kurdish statements.”

Cansu Özdemir, a Left party politician with Turkish roots in Hamburg’s state parliament, said on Twitter the shooting was a “murder attempt.”

“The murder attempt on Deniz Dersim Naki makes it clear: Members of the [Turkish] opposition in Germany are not safe. I worry that Erdoğan ‘s hit squads will continue until every person that bothers them is silent,” she wrote, adding: “This serious threat level cannot continue to be understated.”

Naki was raised in Düren and played for the German clubs FC St. Pauli as well as SC Paderborn. He currently plays for third-tier Kurdish team Verein Amed Sportif Faaliyetler.

Last May, Naki was given an 18-month suspended sentence in Turkey for spreading “terrorist propaganda” after he posted statements on social media related to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

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