Turkish lawmaker taken hostage

Turkish troops have launched a search for a lawmaker kidnapped by Kurdish rebels near the eastern city of Tunceli, authorities and the lawmaker’s party said.

Huseyin Aygun, from the main opposition Republican People’s Party, was abductedon Sunday evening at a roadblock between the town of Ovacik and Tunceli, said party spokesman Haluk Koc during a televised news conference.

A journalist and an adviser traveling with him were set free, he added. “For the first time, a lawmaker has been kidnapped by the terrorist organisation,” Koc said. “It shows where the level of terrorism has reached.”

The rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, are fighting for an autonomy in the Kurdish-dominated southeast region and maintain bases in northern Iraq from where they launch hit-and-run attacks on Turkish targets. The group is considered a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union.

Turkey has raised concerns that the rebels could now also exploit a power vacuum in neighbouring Syria, and has warned it will “not tolerate” any rebel threats from Syrian territory.

NTV television reported Governor Mustafa Taskesen of Tunceli province as saying that Aygun was kidnapped under orders from Kurdish rebel command, which is based deep in northern Iraq. The rebels have previously kidnapped soldiers, local politicians, government workers, journalists and tourists, but never a lawmaker. Most hostages have been released without harm. The kidnapping came ahead of the 28th anniversary of the rebels’ first armed attack on August 15, 1984.

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