A popular Turkish folk singer has been shot in the head and seriously wounded in an attack in Istanbul by unknown gunmen.

Ibrahim Tatlises, who is famous throughout the Middle East and Southeastern Europe, is in critical condition in Maslak Acibadem hospital.

The Anatolia news agency reported that bullet entered the rear of his skull and passed out through the front.

His life is still in danger but the situation has improved since he arrived at hospital, chief surgeon Caglar Cuhadaroglu told Anatolia after the four-hour operation.

Tatlises could be paralyzed if he survives.

According to reports, Tatlises, 58, had just departed the offices of private Turkish channel Beyaz TV with his spokeswoman, who was also hurt in the shooting.

The unidentified assailants carried Kalashnikov rifles and escaped in a waiting car.

Tatlises has survived at least two prior attacks, one in 1990 and the other in 1998. He is or Kurdish origin and came from the south-eastern city of Sanliurfa.

The entertainer has recorded more than 30 albums, has acted in many films and hosts a television show.

Tatlises also has extensive business interests, particularly in Kurdish areas of northern Iraq.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the murder attempt.