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Far-right party member summoned to testify on alleged links to suspected İstanbul bomber

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Turkish police have summoned an executive from the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), to testify regarding his connection to the suspected bomber of a recent attack in İstanbul, local media reported on Tuesday.

Six people were killed and 81 others wounded on Sunday when an explosion rocked İstiklal Avenue, a busy pedestrian street that runs through İstanbul’s central district of Beyoğlu.

According to Turkish media reports, Mehmet Emin İlhan, head of the MHP’s Güçlükonak district in the southeastern province of Şırnak, was among those called by police to testify as part of an investigation into the attack.

İlhan was summoned after the police found that two calls were made between a phone line registered to him and one that was used by Ahlam Albashir, the Syrian national named as the suspected bomber in the İstanbul attack and arrested in Turkey on Monday.

The MHP executive told the police that he had never spoken to Albashir, local media reports said.

Speaking to the T24 news website on Tuesday, İlhan confirmed the claims that he was ordered by police to testify and added that it was a result of a terrorist organization’s attempt to “play a trick” on him, without elaborating.

Turkey accuses the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community and has waged a deadly insurgency for Kurdish self-rule in southeastern Turkey since the 1980s, of carrying out the attack.

İstiklal Avenue was previously targeted during a campaign of nationwide bombings in 2015-16 that were blamed mostly on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and outlawed Kurdish militants, killing nearly 500 people and wounding more than 2,000.

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