PKK says Turkish troops set free

Reported release of the eight kidnapped soldiers yet to be confirmed by Turkey.

    Last month PKK fighters killed at least 12 Turkish soldiers and abducted eight more [AFP]

    It also comes before a meeting on Monday between Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, and George Bush, the US president, in Washington to discuss a possible cross-border offensive against the PKK.
     
    Hoda Abdel Hamid, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Istanbul, said on Sunday that the Turkish government had not yet confirmed the release of troops.
     
    She said that conflicting reports from the Iraqi and Kurdish governments are surrounding the reported release of the troops.
     
    Release announced

    "At 7:30 [local time] the eight Turkish prisoners were delivered to a delegation from the Kurdistan region which also included members of the Democratic Society Party (DTP)," Chaderchi said.

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    He declined to say where the soldiers had been released, but said they were in good health and were released without any ransom or conditions.
       
    Last month, the PKK fighters killed at least 12 soldiers and abducted eight soldiers in an attack on a Turkish army post near the Iraq.
       
    The attack sparked a huge public outcry in Turkey and calls for an offensive against the fighters based in northern Iraq.
       
    Turkish media have said three politicians from the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) were in northern Iraq negotiating for the release of the soldiers.
       
    The Turkish government rejected any talks with the PKK for their release but said it was doing everything necessary for their return.

    Launch attack

     

    A day earlier, Iraq pledged to "chase and arrest" Kurdish separatist fighters using bases in northern Iraq to launch attacks on Turkey.

     

    The office of Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, issued a statement on Saturday, promising action against PKK fighters.

     

    "The prime minister renewed the willingness of the Iraqi government to take steps to isolate the terrorist PKK, prevent any help reaching its members, chase and arrest them, and put them in front of the Iraqi judiciary because of their terrorist activities," the statement said.

     

    Iraq has pledged to "chase and arrest" Kurdish separatist fighters [AFP]

    Al-Maliki's pledge came after he met Erdogan and Abdullah Gul, Turkey's president, on the sidelines of a conference in Istanbul.

     

    The conference in Istanbul of "neighbours" of Iraq was originally meant to focus on security inside Iraq.

     

    However, it was overshadowed by tensions between Turkey and Iraq over the ongoing attacks by the PKK.

     

    "The main question [today] was the PKK and whether Turkey would be satisfied with what Iraq had to offer as measures to counter the PKK," Al Jazeera's correspondent in Istanbul, said on Saturday.

     

     "Iraq has put on the table some measures that it says it can achieve within its own limitations and means," Abdel Hamid said.

     

    Military option

     

    Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq's foreign minister, said at the close of Satuday’s conference that Iraq was serious about its commitment to Ankara.

     

    "No-one should be under any illusions that Iraq is very serious in co-operating actively and in lending its active support to the Turkish government," he said.

     

    Baghdad is under pressure from both the Turkish and US governments to act against PKK fighters based in northern Iraq.

     

    Turkey has up to 100,000 troops on the border for a possible cross-border offensive against an estimated 3,000 rebels.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and Agencies


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