Senior PKK rebel denies reports of his arrest


The deputy to jailed PKK leader Adullah Ocalan made a rare appearance on television to deny an Iranian report that its forces had arrested the second in command of the Turkish Kurd rebel group.

A senior Iranian member of parliament said Sunday that Iranian forces had captured the No. 2 commander of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), without giving a name.

Murat Karayilan, the PKK’s field commander, told a Kurdish TV channel from his hideout in the Kandil mountains between Turkey and Iraq that he was fine and free, Reuters reports.
“These stories are just made-up games by Turkey and Iran to demoralise the organisation,” Karayilan told Roj TV.

Earlier, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of Iran’s parliament’s foreign affairs committee, had told the semi-official Mehr news agency: “Our country’s intelligence forces have carried out an important task and have arrested the second (highest) person in the PKK.”

While Turkish media spread the news of the supposed arrest, which would have been a huge blow to the revel group, officials in both country were unable to confirm it.

Boroujerdi later said he had no direct knowledge of the matter.
“What I heard about this arrest was based on what Turkish media reported and nothing more,” he told the Iranian students’ news agency ISNA. “Whether it’s right or wrong should be confirmed by the relevant body.”

A Turkish television channel had reported Saturday that Karayilan had been captured in Iran but later withdrew the story.

Iranian forces often clash with Kurdish guerrillas said to be members of Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), an offshoot of the PKK which took up arms in 1984 for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey and northwest Iran.

An explosion on the pipeline carrying Iranian natural gas to Turkey halted the exports Friday, the latest in a string of recent blasts. The PKK claimed two separate attacks on the pipeline on Aug 3.