The leader of Bulgaria’s ethnic Turkish party survived a brazen attack after a man jumped onstage and leveled a gas pistol at him while he was delivering a speech during a party gathering in the capital Saturday.
Ahmed Dogan, the long-time leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) escaped unscathed, and it was not immediately clear why the attacker had targeted him at the party congress in downtown Sofia.
Television footage showed the man jumping out of the audience and interrupting a speech by 58-year-old Dogan, who has led the party for almost a quarter of a century. Security guards were seen beating and kicking the attacker.
It was unclear from the footage whether the attacker, identified as 25-year-old Oktai Enimehmedov, actually pulled the trigger but had the gun jam or was wrestled to the ground before he could fire.
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Police said Enimehmedov, a Bulgarian national and ethnic Turk from the Black Sea town of Burgas, was also carrying two knives.
“Ahmed Dogan is in good health. Everything is under control,” MRF official Ceyhan Ibryamov told journalists, according to Reuters.
The liberal MRF party represents ethnic Turks and other Muslims in Bulgaria, who make up about 12 percent of the country’s 7.3-million population.
The party conference had been tasked with selecting a new leader to replace Dogan, seen as one of the country’s most influential political leaders.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.