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Turkey: PKK hostage release could signal lasting peace

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Turkey: PKK hostage release could signal lasting peace
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Turkish Kurd militants freed eight hostages they had held in the mountains of northern Iraq for more than a year. 

It is felt this could be the first big step in ending Turkey’s three-decade war with the PKK, a conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people.
Reporters were invited to witness the handover and a small signing ceremony on the remote Sargali plain.

The six soldiers, one police officer and a local official were freed in good health and later escorted across the Turkish border to be reunited with their families.

Talks between Turkish officials and PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, who has imprisoned on an island near Istanbul for more than a decade, got going in October.

The group is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, and just a few years ago such a dialogue would have been unthinkable, but the openness of the latest process has boosted hopes for peace.