ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A group of Turks residing in the Balkans could assassinate Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during an upcoming trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkish state media reported on Saturday.
Public-funded Anadolu Agency said, “western intelligence agencies” have notified their Turkish counterparts of a possible plot on Erdogan’s life.
The claim came as voters in Turkey prepare to go to the ballot box to elect new lawmakers and an empowered president next month in snap elections called for by Erdogan who is challenged by a fractured yet more confident opposition.
Deputy Prime Minister and a government spokesperson, Bekir Bozdag was the first official to react.
“Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a righteous, faithful believer. His faith is complete that no one can take life without Allah’s permission. Our President has overcome many threats and much pressure, by foiling many tricks and traps. He shall continue with the same belief from now on,” Bozdag tweeted referring to the reports.
In a series of tweets, the Deputy PM invoked prayers for Erdogan and said that “he was the leader of [Prophet] Muhammad’s ummah and hope for the oppressed.”
The Turkish President is scheduled to hold an election campaign rally in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital of Sarajevo, in a bid to attract votes from Bosniaks in Turkey whose population stand at hundreds of thousands.
“According to the information received, Turks in Macedonia’s capital Skopje informed intelligence units of a hearsay that an assassination attempt on President Erdogan might take place during a visit to the Balkan countries,” the agency wrote, without citing its sources.
It added there were similar reports from various sources, which prompted the Turkish security department to investigate the subject.
“It has been learned that detailed intelligence studies on the reports continue and that there is no precise information about time, day, location, planned assassination method. Intelligence organizations coordinate and continue to share information during the investigation of the issue,” Anadolu wrote.
The report also did not point out at any group banned in Turkey.
Ankara is at war with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighting for Kurdish self-rule, several hardline leftist groups demanding a departure from the NATO camp, and the Islamic movement of the US-exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen who is a former ally of the current government.
Erdogan’s visit to Sarajevo comes at a time where Western European nations, such as Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands have blocked Turkish electoral campaigns on their soil.
The trip could lead to polarization in Bosniak politics as opposition leaders there have expressed concern regarding Erdogan’s planned rally, Euronews reported.
Editing by Karza Sulaivany