Three German mountaineers abducted by the outlawed PKK on a climbing expedition this month are safe with Turkish government, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson told Reuters on Sunday. The outlawed PKK separatists were forced to release the hostages when they were pursued by Turkish troops aiming to block their escape routes across the border, governor of Agri province told reporters. (UPDATED)
The PKK separatists left the hostages on a hill and fled, Gov. Mehmet Cetin told a televised news conference.
"Half an hour later, paramilitary forces picked them up," he said. Cetin added the three were in good condition and would be handed over to German authorities after a routine medical check.
"We have the German mountaineers. The Foreign Minister Ali Babacan has called the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to inform him," Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin told Reuters earlier on Sunday.
Five PKK separatists last week abducted the climbers, part of a group of 13 mountaineers from their camp at 10,500 feet on a mountain in the eastern province of Agri.
The outlawed PKK separatists had said they would hold the hostages until Berlin ended its crackdown on PKK in Germany.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a personal appeal for the release of the Germans, but Steinmeier at the time rejected the demands for a change in policy in return for their freedom.
The Turkish army had launched a wider search operation to rescue the German tourists and Mount Ararat has been declared off-limits until further notice.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Ankara, the European Union and the U.S. The group has in the past kidnapped people, among them soldiers, police officers, journalists and tourists.