Turkey opposition leader punched by assailant in parliament

ISTANBUL - The leader of Turkey's main opposition party was attacked as he entered parliament Tuesday by a stranger who punched and kicked him several times, local media reported.

The assault occurred as Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of the secular Republican People's Party (CHP), was heading to a weekly party meeting to assess results of local polls on Sunday that were handily won by the ruling Justice and Development Party.

Kilicdaroglu's bodyguards immediately overpowered the attacker, who was taken to a police station for questioning, the newspaper Radikal reported.

The assailant was identified as 28-year-old Orhan Oven, reportedly a member of an ultra-nationalist organisation who has been convicted in the past of several charges including an armed attack.

"I had set my mind to punch (Kilicdaroglu). I waited for him to enter (the parliament) and punched him at the first opportunity," Oven was quoted as saying. He did not explain his motive.

After the assault, Kilicdaroglu addressed lawmakers and said he would not be bowed by violence.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the attack as "unacceptable" in a democratic system.