A pro-Kurdish party in Turkey has offered to mediate with rebels who have taken three German tourists hostage, as Berlin steps up efforts to secure their release. It has previously helped negotiate over Turkish soldiers held by the Kurdish PKK group. “If the German government asks us to bring back the kidnapped mountaineers, as we brought back the eight soldiers, then we will do what we can, as we did for those soldiers,” a leader of the Kurdish Democratic Society party said.
A team of German police officers has arrived in the area in the east of the country where the climbers were seized.
They had talks with with the regional governor before going on to liaise with local police. The rebels have reportedly said they will not release the tourists until Germany renounces policies against their group.
The army has sealed off Mount Ararat amid an extensive search for the three Germans. They were part of a larger group on a visit to the popular tourist destination. The PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation by the EU and the US, has not resorted to kidnappings since the 1990s, at the height of its campaign for a Kurdish homeland. Berlin has rejected its demands and called for the hostages’ release.