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 Kurdish PKK rebels release British tourist kidnapped in Turkey

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Kurdish PKK rebels release British tourist kidnapped in Turkey  4.6.2012  

Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) guerrillas' security checkpoint near a PKK base. The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds' identity in its constitution and of their language as a native language along with Turkish in the country's Kurdish areas, the party also demanded an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and constitution against Kurds, ranting them full political freedoms. Photo: AFP 
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June 4, 2012

DIYARBAKIR, The Kurdish region of Turkey, — A British tourist who was kidnapped by Kurdish PKK rebels in the Kurdish region in southeastern Turkey at the weekend was freed on Monday, officials in London and Turkey said.

The 35-year-old man was described as being in good health and is to be taken to the main southeastern Kurdish city of Diyarbakir for brief questioning about his ordeal, a Turkish official said on condition of anonymity.

The Briton was snatched on Saturday by members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) who had stopped the bus he was travelling in between the Black Sea city of Trabzon and Diyarbakir.

In London, a spokesman for the Foreign Office confirmed his release, but declined to disclose his identity.

"He has since been in touch with his family in the UK. Embassy officials are speaking to him and are offering consular assistance," the spokesman told AFP.

"The British ambassador in Ankara, David Reddaway, would like to express his gratitude to the Turkish authorities in securing his release."

No details were immediately available about the circumstances of the release.

Saturday's abduction came amid an upsurge in activity by the rebel group, which last month kidnapped 10 people from a village in the Kurd-dominated southeast, [northern Kurdistan]. The motive was unknown.

In a separate incident on Monday, two Turkish soldiers were killed in the Diyarbakir region when a landmine laid by rebels exploded, a local security source said.

The PKK has several times proposed peaceful solutions regarding Kurdish problem, Turkey has always refused saying that it will not negotiate with “terrorists”.

Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by Ankara and U.S. The PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list. 

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