Turkish troops launched an operation Monday to free a politician kidnapped by Kurdish rebels near the eastern city of Tunceli, authorities said. Huseyin Aygun, an ethnic Kurd, was abducted Sunday evening at a roadblock.
AFP – Turkish security forces on Monday launched an operation seeking to free an ethnic Kurdish lawmaker kidnapped by Kurdish rebels in the east of the country.
Huseyin Aygun from the Republican People's Party (CHP) in the south-eastern city of Tunceli was abducted Sunday after his car was stopped by the rebels on the highway, security sources told AFP.
The captors let Aygun's assistant and a journalist accompanying them leave as they took Aygun and disappeared into the woods nearby, Tunceli governor Mustafa Taskesen told reporters, citing witnesses.
It marked the first time since the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels began their battle for autonomy in Turkey's Kurdish-majority southeast in 1984 that they have abducted a member of the Turkish parliament.
According to Aygun's aides, the PKK have promised to free the lawmaker "in a few days" without threatening his life, apparently seeing the abduction as a way of attracting public opinion to the Kurdish cause.
Turkey's Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin said the PKK wanted to create a "sensation" in capturing the lawmaker before the anniversary on August 15 of the rebels' first armed operations 28 years ago, the Anatolia news agency reported.
"We are following this affair very closely," he added.
Augun, 42, has in the past called on the PKK to abandon their violent campaign.
His kidnapping follows the abduction of three soldiers last week, and the search continues to find the troops.
Kurdish rebels frequently kidnap workers, soldiers and local authorities to bargain for the release of captured rebels. Those who have not been found by Turkish forces are reportedly held captive in hideouts across Turkey's border with Iraq.
Last Sunday, rebels stormed a Turkish army post on the Iraq border, triggering fighting that killed 22 people in the latest clash since Ankara unleashed a major offensive against the insurgents.
A series of similar assaults against troops in the Kurdish-majority southeast prompted the army to launch an all-out offensive against PKK bases in the area last month.
At least 115 rebels have been killed since the offensive began on July 23, Turkish authorities said.
The conflict with the PKK, considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey and much of the international community, has claimed some 45,000 lives over nearly three decades.
Date created : 2012-08-13