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PKK frees abducted Germans

Article published on the 2008-07-20 Latest update 2008-07-20 15:31 TU

The Turkish army patrol the Turkish/Iraqi border.(Photo: Reuters)

The Turkish army patrol the Turkish/Iraqi border.
(Photo: Reuters)

Three German mountaineers abducted by the outlawed PKK separatist group on a climbing expedition earlier this month, have been rescued and are safe with the Turkish government, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said. The outlawed PKK separatists were forced to release the hostages when they were pursued by Turkish troops aiming to block their escape routes across the border.

The tourists were seized from their camp on Mount Ararat in Turkey's eastern Agri province on 9 July.

The PKK said it would not release them unless Germany renounced its crackdown on the group, defined as a terrorist organisation by the US, EU and Turkey.

The Germans were part of a 13-member climbing team that had set up camp on the mountain, the highest in Turkey and a popular tourist destination.

Governor of Agri province Mehmet Cetin, said the rebels had been forced to release the hostages after they were pursued by Turkish troops seeking to cut off their escape routes over the border.

"They left them on a hill and fled," Mr Cetin told a televised news conference. "Half an hour later, paramilitary forces picked them up."

Their seizure came a month after Germany banned a Kurdish television station which the country's interior minister said was a mouthpiece for the armed group.

Turkey has in recent months stepped up its campaign against PKK bases in northern Iraq, in response to an increase in attacks by the group.