Turkish forces seek to free kidnapped lawmaker
DIYARBAKIR: Turkish security forces launched yesterday 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 southeastern 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.
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels confirmed in a statement they were holding the lawmaker and warned Turkey to abandon its rescue operation. “The lawmaker Huseyin Aygun has been detained by our fighters,” rebels said in a statement given to the pro-Kurd news agency Firatnews.
“An operation has been launched which puts the life of the lawmaker in danger,” the PKK said.
It marked the first time since 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 Aug. 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.
Posted by: Steve White