Kurdish Rebel Group Frees German Hostages in Turkey

Moscow Times, Russia
July 21 2008

Kurdish Rebel Group Frees German Hostages in Turkey

21 July 2008

ANKARA, Turkey — Kurdish rebels have released three German climbers
after holding them hostage for more than a week, Turkish authorities
said Sunday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan called German Foreign Minister
Frank-Walter Steinmeier to tell him that "the German climbers were in
the hands of Turkish officials and their health condition was good,"
the foreign ministry said.

The ministry refused to share further details about when or where the
climbers were released.

The three men were seized at Mount Ararat in eastern Agri province on
July 8, to protest German pressure on Kurdish rebels’ supporters in
Germany and get Berlin to put pressure on Turkey to halt military
operations against the guerrilla group.

Governor Mehmet Cetin of Agri province told reporters Sunday that the
rebels were forced to release the hostages when they were pursued by
Turkish troops aiming to block their escape routes across the
border. The Mount Ararat area borders Iran and Armenia.

"They left them on a hill and fled," Cetin told a televised news

Turkish troops escalated attacks against the rebels in the region
after the kidnapping, killing more than 30 rebels.

Cetin said the three were in good condition and would be handed over
to German authorities after a routine medical check. Private CNN-Turk
television said the climbers were in the border town of Dogubayazit,
close to Mount Ararat.

A pro-Kurdish news agency, Firat, quoted the rebel group last week as
saying a local unit carried out the kidnapping on its own initiative.