Kurds kidnap 3 German climbers on Mount Ararat
Three German climbers were kidnapped by Kurdish rebels high on Mount Ararat - where many believe Noah's Ark came to rest - and Turkish troops have launched an operation to rescue them, an official said Wednesday, the AP reported.
Mehmet Cetin, the governor of Turkey's Agri province, said the members of a 13-person German climbing party were abducted late Tuesday from their camp at 10,500 feet on the mountain in far eastern Turkey near the Iranian border, the Dogan news agency reported.
The three men from Bavaria - who are 33, 47 and 65 - seemed to have been picked out at random by the kidnappers, Bavaria's state interior minister said.
The ten other Germans returned to the city of Agri, Cetin said.
Cetin said the five Kurdish rebels who abducted the Germans apparently did so to protest Germany's crackdown on their supporters. The separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, is banned in Germany, where authorities have regularly arrested and tried suspected activists.
The rebels, who have been fighting for autonomy in eastern Turkey since 1984, abducted and released other foreign tourists and climbers in the early 1990s.
Mount Ararat is traditionally considered the site where the Ark landed after the great flood.