Dutch authorities arrest alleged Kurdish rebels at training camp
by TOBY STERLING; Associated Press Writer
Associated Press Worldstream
November 12, 2004 Friday 3:06 PM Eastern Time
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — Dutch authorities rounded up 38 suspected
members of a Kurdish rebel group in nationwide raids Friday, including
“trainees” allegedly being prepared at a rural campground for terrorist
attacks in Turkey, officials said Friday.
Authorities said the detainees are members of the former Kurdish
Workers’ Party, or PKK, which seeks to carve out an independent
Kurdish state in the mountains of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey.
The group, which recently renamed itself KONGRA-GEL, has been branded
a terrorist organization by the European Union.
“In the investigation it emerged that at the campground more than 20
people received training for armed fighting for the PKK in Turkey,
among other means by committing terrorist attacks,” a statement by
prosecutors said. “Trainees were taught special war tactics.”
There were also indications that “a number of the trainees were
destined for Armenia,” it said.
More than 200 police were involved in the second major operation
in the Netherlands in a week, after special forces used tear gas
Wednesday to end a standoff with alleged Islamic radicals in The
Hague. Prosecutors said the two operations were not related.
Prosecution spokesman Wim de Bruin said the suspected Kurdish rebels
had been under observation for several months and that “the course
was nearly finished.”
“We wanted to prevent the group from leaving the country and putting
to use the knowledge they had gained,” he said.
In Friday’s raid of the alleged paramilitary training camp in the
far south of the Netherlands, police seized night vision goggles,
packages of clothing intended to be sent abroad, instruction materials,
fake passports and identity cards. Twenty-nine suspects were arrested.
“Apparently there’s been a training center there for a long time,
and that’s why it was decided to step in,” Jan van Homelen, mayor of
the nearby town of Boxtel said on national television.
Nine others were arrested in separate raids in The Hague, Rotterdam,
Eindhoven, Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, and the town of Capelle aan
The rebels ended a five-year unilateral cease-fire in June and
have carried out a number of attacks recently, most in Turkey’s
predominantly Kurdish southeast.
The group has been on the EU’s list of terrorist organizations since
April, and Dutch prosecutors said those arrested Friday will likely
be charged as members.
Other detainees allegedly arranged money transfers, passports to PKK
members in Turkey and Armenia, and aided communication between rebel
fighters, prosecutors said.
The suspects, whose names were not released, were 33 men and five
Van Homelen said the suspects did not appear to have used weapons or
explosives in their training, which he described as “more theoretical.”
Prosecutors said the suspects said they were Kurdish but they were
all considered Turkish nationals by the Dutch state.
No names were released.
On Monday, The Hague’s district court blocked the extradition of
alleged PKK leader Nuriye Kesbir to Turkey for her suspected role
in a series of bombings in the 1990s. The Justice Ministry said it
would appeal the decision.