Kurdish militants free four abducted Turkish soldiers


Four Turkish soldiers abducted by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants were released early on Monday in southeast Turkey’s Diyarbakir province after Kurdish politicians intervened on their behalf, security sources told Reuters.

Tensions rose in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish provinces after two people were killed on Friday during clashes between police and protesters in the town of Yuksekova.

The two officers and two sergeants were seized on Sunday by PKK guerrillas who set up a roadblock on a country road in the Lice area of Diyarbakir and checked the identity cards of people driving through, the sources said.

The militants set fire to three vehicles at the scene before fleeing with the soldiers.

The sources said politicians from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) intervened to secure the release of the soldiers, handing them over at a military outpost in the area.

The clashes in Yuksekova, in Hakkari province, began after a few hundred protesters after report that graves of PKK members had been desecrated. Turkish police fired water cannon and tear gas to disperse the protesters.

Both Hakkari and Diyarbakir are located in the Kurdish dominated region of Turkey.

A fragile eight-month ceasefire between Turkey and the PKK militants is holding as the two sides negotiate a peace process to end a conflict that has left more than 40,000 people dead over the past decade.

Jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan said incidents such as Friday’s were provocations aimed at hampering the process and called for calm, BDP MPs said in a statement on Saturday after visiting him in his prison on Imrali island near Istanbul.

The PKK is designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.