Three German tourists have been kidnapped by suspected Kurdish guerrillas in eastern Turkey. The trio were part of a larger group on a climbing holiday, tackling Mount Ararat. They had arrived in the region three days ago, and had set up base at around 3,200 metres on the mountain when they were seized by apparent members of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.
Mount Ararat is in Turkey’s Agri province, to the north of the main Kurdish conflict region, and is a popular destination for climbers. It is thought the climbers were taken because of Germany’s recent decision to ban Roj TV, seen as a mouthpiece for the PKK. Berlin also sent two PKK militants back to Turkey last year.
The German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: “It is now known that three German citizens have been kidnapped in eastern Turkey. We have called an immediate meeting of the Foreign Ministry Crisis Management Group, and the team has been in contact with officials in Turkey.”
Kidnapping tourists is unusual for the PKK, whose normal strategy is to attack Turkish military targets near the border with Iraq. The group is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU and the United States.