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Kurdish MP abducted 'by PKK' in east Turkey
Reports say Huseyin Aygun taken hostage at roadblock between town of Ovacik and Tunceli by suspected Kurdish rebels.
Last Modified: 13 Aug 2012 04:55
Turkish military presence has increased in the Kurdish region since the escalation of events in neighbouring Syria [AFP]

A Turkish opposition member of parliament has been kidnapped by suspected members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

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

"For the first time, a lawmaker has been kidnapped by the terrorist organisation," said Koc.

In the past, the PKK has focused on attacking soldiers, journalists and other civilians.

A search operation is now underway.

NTV television reported Mustafa Taskesen of Tunceli province as saying that Aygun was kidnapped under orders from Kurdish rebel command, which is based deep in northern Iraq. He said troops were chasing the rebels and a larger operation would be launched early on Monday.

Increased presence


Turkey has launched military drills near the frontier in a show of strength. The Turkish government said last month that the rebels have seized control of five towns along the border in collaboration with Syria's Democratic Union Party, or PYD an ethnic Kurdish grouping.

Aygun was elected to the Parliament to represent Tunceli, where he worked as a lawyer for 14 years. According to his website, his work focuses on human rights abuses, such as the forcible evacuations of Kurdish villages to deny support to the rebels in rural areas, as well as torture cases.

The kidnapping came days after the government claimed troops have killed as many as 115 rebels in town of Semdinli, and after Aygun's party called for an extraordinary meeting in Parliament on Tuesday to discuss the struggle against the rebels.

The rebels of the PKK, are fighting for 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.

A government campaign to reconcile with Kurds, who make up roughly 20 per cent of Turkey's nearly 75 million people, by granting them more rights has stalled amid a surge in fighting over the past year.

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