Thursday, July 10, 2008

Germans Kidnapped by PKK

From Today's Zaman:
Members of the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) on Tuesday kidnapped three German mountaineers as they were climbing Mt. Ağrı (Ararat), the governor of the eastern Anatolian province of Ağrı announced yesterday.

The three Germans were nabbed from a group of 13 mountaineers by five PKK terrorists, who raided their camp at an altitude of 3,200 meters on Mt. Ağrı, Governor Mehmet Çetin told the Anatolia news agency yesterday.

The group of German mountaineers, headed by a guide, obtained a legal permit to climb Ağrı by applying to the Ağrı Governor's Office through the Foreign Ministry in Ankara and arrived in the province three days ago, Çetin said. He emphasized that teams from the provincial gendarmerie have launched a wide-scale search operation in the region and that the rest of the mountaineers' group was brought to the province's town of Doğubeyazıt.

"The terrorists said they carried out this action because of the German government's recent moves against PKK associations and sympathizers," Anatolia quoted the governor as saying, in an apparent reference to the fact that the Denmark-based Roj TV station, one of the main propaganda tools of the PKK, was recently banned in Germany because of its support for the PKK's terrorist activities against Turkey.

Yet in Ankara, officials from the Foreign Ministry, while acknowledging that the three mountaineers were captured around 11 p.m. on Tuesday night, were not yet able to confirm that the mountaineers were kidnapped by the PKK.

"There is no confirmed information yet. The German Embassy in Ankara, our ministry and the Interior Ministry as well as the Ağrı Governor's Office have been involved in the issue since last night [Tuesday night]," the Foreign Ministry officials, who requested anonymity, told Today's Zaman yesterday.

Kidnapping tourists is a rare tactic for the PKK, whose activities are mainly focused on attacking military targets in southeastern Turkey. German Embassy officials could not be reached as of yesterday afternoon. In Berlin, a spokesperson for the German Foreign Ministry yesterday issued a statement with similar comments to those of the Turkish Foreign Ministry officials to Today's Zaman.

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