Turkish hostages released by PKK in northern Iraq
Public officers kidnapped by the outlawed PKK have been handed over to a group including Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) lawmakers and non-governmental organization representatives sent to northern Iraq, daily Hurriyet reported. The group, accompanied by Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials, headed to an undefined meeting point in northern Iraq, Anatolia news agency reported. It was composed of BDP Hakkari Deputy Adil Kurt and BDP Bitlis Deputy Husamettin Zenderlioglu, Head of the Human Rights Association (IHD) Ozturk Turkdogan, IHD Diyarbakir Provincial Chairman Raci Bilici, Head of Mazlum-Der Faruk Unsal and Deputy Head of Mazlum-Der Selahattin Coban. Turkish President Abdullah Gul expressed his happiness at the release of the Turkish public servants, highlighting that the transition from security-based policies to ones based on reform would be facilitated by an end to violence. The eight public officers released were to be handed over to the delegation in the Amediye district of northern Iraq, 30 kilometers away from the Turkish border. However, the delegation from Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) canceled the meeting at the last minute in order to avoid meeting in the presence of the press, daily Hurriyet reported today. During the meeting, KDP members stopped PKK members who were ready to hand over the hostages when there were just 100 meters between the two groups. Bilici told Hurriyet that he thought the KDP stopped when they saw members of the press. After a short period of confusion, a solution was reached and the delegation moved to a new location. The eight hostages have been named as district governor candidate Kenan Erenoğlu, Sgts. Zihni Koc and Kemal Ekinci, non-commissioned officer Abdullah Sopceler, police officer Nadir Ozgen, and soldiers Ramazan Basaran, Hadi Gizli and Resat Cecan. Meanwhile, all eight hostages said that they were happy that they would be reunited with their families, according to Fırat news agency, known for its close ties with the PKK. Ozgen said that he hoped the process would have positive results, while Ekinci said he was excited to see his child, who was unborn when he was captured, according to Firat news agency, which released recent photos of seven hostages on its website.