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The New Arab

Shots fired at anti-Erdogan Kurdish footballer on German motorway

Naki (R) says he was targeted because of his criticism of the Turkish president. [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 January, 2018

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Deniz Naki, who plays for the Turkish team Amedspor, said he feared for his life after two bullets were fired at his SUV in Germany.

A Kurdish-German footballer and critic of the Turkish government survived an alleged assassination attempt late on Sunday after shots were fired at his car on a German motorway.

Deniz Naki, who plays for the Turkish team Amedspor in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, said he feared for his life after two bullets were fired at his SUV from a black van in western Germany.

"One bullet hit my car in the middle of the window, the other landed near a tyre. Luckily, I wasn't hit," he told Die Welt newspaper.

"I was afraid for my life," the German-born player, 28, added.

Naki says he was targeted because of his criticism of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Last year he was convicted of making terror propaganda for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) by a Turkish court and handed a suspended jail sentence.

The charges came after he criticised Turkey's military operations against PKK fighters in the country's south-east.

In 2016, the Turkish Football Federation issued Naki with a 12-match ban for "ideological propaganda" linked to the Kurdish conflict.

The prosecutor's office in the western German city of Aachen said an investigation into attempted murder had been opened but declined to say whether the incident was politically motivated.

Naki said he believed the attacker was a Turkish government agent or a Turkish radical in Germany.

Turkey has not commented on the incident and there is no evidence connecting state forces to the shooting.

Left-wing German-Turkish politician Cansu Ozdemir tweeted that she feared Erdogan's "hit squads" were trying to intimidate political opponents following news of the shooting.

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