A man jumped on stage and pointed a gun at the leader of Bulgaria's ethnic Turkish party before security guards wrestled him to the ground during a televised conference yesterday.

Ahmed Dogan, 58, 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.

The incident happened at a party congress in downtown Sofia.

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Television footage showed the man jumping out of the audience and interrupting a speech by Dogan, who has led the party for almost a quarter of a century. Security guards were seen beating and kicking the attacker.

"Ahmed Dogan is in good health. Everything is under control," MRF official Ceyhan Ibryamov told journalists.

Police said they had arrested a 25-year-old man from the Black Sea town of Burgas who was also carrying two knives.

The liberal MRF party represents ethnic Turks and other Muslims who make up about 12% of Bulgaria's 7.3 million-strong population.