A WORKER at a Turkish statistics office in the eastern province of Kars has shot dead six people before committing suicide in what appears to have been a revenge attack over a professional dispute.

Kars Governor Eyup Tepe said the Statistics Institute (TUIK) employee had come to the building and had shot dead six staff, including the regional manager, with a Glock pistol.

One other employee suffered minor injuries.

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Mr Tepe's office said in a statement: "Veysi Erim was working as a sociologist and was receiving treatment for psychological problems. This horrible incident has no connection with terrorism."

TUIK confirmed one of its employees had killed six staff before turning the gun on himself but gave no further details.

The Hurriyet newspaper said Erim had been involved in a professional dispute before the shooting.

One report said the gunman was a former employee who had recently been dismissed from the statistics institute.

Kars is in northeastern Turkey near the Armenian border, where militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - branded a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU -have conducted attacks including kidnappings.

Political tensions are running high in Turkey ahead of local elections on March 30 and amid a corruption scandal dogging Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government.

There has been a series of attacks, including shootings at the local offices of political parties, in recent weeks, most of them in Istanbul.

President Abdullah Gul yesterday dismissed suggestions outside forces were conspiring against Turkey, openly contradicting Mr Erdogan's assertions that a corruption scandal is part of a foreign-backed plot to undermine him.

The fraud inquiry which is swirling around Mr Erdogan's government has become the biggest challenge of his 11-year rule.

He has repeatedly cast it as a scheme by political enemies at home and abroad to damage him ahead of the local elections.