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15 detained in connection to attack on İmamoğlu’s campaign bus

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The Erzurum Police Department announced on Monday that 15 people have been detained in connection to a Sunday attack on the campaign bus of İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, the Birgün daily reported.

A statement from the department said they had identified 16 people who took part in throwing rocks at the campaign bus and detained 15 of them while working to apprehend the remaining suspect.

Seventeen people suffered minor injuries when protestors pelted the İstanbul mayor’s campaign bus with stones while he was touring Turkey’s conservative heartland ahead of next weekend’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

Images released by İmamoğlu’s office showed rocks smashing the bus’s windows at a campaign stop in Erzurum.

İmamoğlu was delivering a speech from the bus’s roof when he was forced to go inside for cover and drive off.

Images on social media showed police using water cannons to disperse a group of people who ran after the bus throwing stones.

İmamoğlu called the incident a provocation and demanded an explanation from local officials as well as the government, which he said failed to take the necessary measures to maintain his safety.

At an election rally in Konya on Monday, İmamoğlu said the stones were not thrown at him but at the Turkish nation and democracy.

The attack on the mayor’s bus in Erzurum has reignited fears about election security in the country.

İmamoğlu is campaigning on behalf of secular opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who is the joint presidential candidate of an opposition alliance of six parties. He is the main rival of incumbent president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the election.

President Erdoğan, who made a veiled reference to the attack on İmamoğlu’s campaign bus at an election rally in northwestern Turkey on Monday, accused the opposition of sparking provocations and then accusing the people of attacking them.

İmamoğlu, however, made clear on Sunday evening that the attack on his campaign bus had nothing to do with the people of Erzurum, implying that it was the work of a group of provocateurs.

The incident in Erzurum underscored the tensions surrounding next Sunday’s elections.

The popular İstanbul mayor has been promised a vice-presidential post should Kılıçdaroğlu win.

Polls suggest that Kılıçdaroğlu and Erdoğan are locked in a dead heat a week from the election.

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