ANKARA (Reuters) - A gunman shot dead four Turkish academics at their university on Thursday whom he saw as supporters of a Muslim cleric accused by the government of being behind a failed coup in 2016, the university rector said.
The state-run news agency Anadolu said police had arrested the gunman at Osmangazi University in the town of Eskisehir near the capital Ankara. An Anadolu reporter told broadcaster CNN Turk the gunman had surrendered and did not try to escape.
Osmangazi University rector Hasan Gonen said the gunman had worked as a researcher at the institution and had fatally shot the assistant dean, faculty secretary, a lecturer and an education faculty staff member.
Gonen said he believed the assailant was looking for the dean, who was not in the building at the time, when he entered the education faculty and opened fire.
“This person had claimed that some members of the university were members of FETO, and he had made similar claims (previously) in court,” Gonen said, using an acronym denoting the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Turkey’s government accuses Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, of having orchestrated the abortive July 2016 attempt by parts of the armed forces to topple President Tayyip Erdogan. More than 250 people were killed in the coup bid. Gulen denies involvement.
Gonen said the gunman’s claim was being investigated by authorities prior to Thursday’s shooting.
Ayse Aypay, a professor at the university, told Turkish media that some members of staff had “repeatedly filed complaints” about the gunman. “Who will pay the price for protecting him now?” Aypay said. She said she would file a criminal complaint to higher educational authorities over their alleged failure to deal with complaints about the suspect.
Eskisehir Governor Ozdemir Cakacak said regional prosecutors had launched an investigation into the incident.
Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by David Dolan, Dominic Evans and Mark Heinrich