Turkish ferry hijacker dead, hostages free: governor

"Soon after the beginning of an operation (by Turkish security forces), the hijacker was captured dead," Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu told NTV private television.

The governor said the hijacker, about 30 years old, was "a member of the terrorist organisation", referring to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

He had been carrying explosives, added Mutlu.

The ferry, named the Kartepe, was hijacked around 2130 IST yesterday in the sea of Marmara, where PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan is jailed on an island.

Transport Minister Binali Yildirim earlier spoke of four or five hijackers, but Mutlu said there was only one.

All the passengers and crew were safe, the governor added, as television footage showed them being evacuated with boats.

Security forces under the command of Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin boarded the ferry off the coast of Silivri, west of Istanbul around 0905 IST today.

Yildirim said 18 passengers, five of them women, four crew and two interns were aboard the vessel, which was making its normal route in the northern Marmara sea when it was seized.

The hijacker told the ferry's captain that he wanted media publicity, mayor Ismail Karaosmanoglu told NTV. Yildirim added that the attacker had conveyed demands for food and fuel through the captured captain.

The explosive found on the hijacker would be analysed by bomb experts.

Nearby boat and ferry trips between Istanbul and Yalova, about one hour apart, were cancelled after the attack, media reports said.

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