World Bulletin / News Desk
The militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) on Sunday kidnapped a deputy from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) in the eastern province of Tunceli.
Tunceli Governor Mustafa Taşkesen said the group blocked a road in the Ovacık district around 7 p.m. on Sunday and stopped a car carrying CHP Tunceli deputy Hüseyin Aygün as well as his aide and a journalist. The group reportedly released the two after abducting Aygün and authorities only learned of the incident once the two arrived in Tunceli without the deputy.
CHP Deputy Chairman Gürsel Tekin said in initial comments on Sunday night that “the party is shocked.” He added that they have no information to add to what the governor said as they have been unable to reach Aygün.
CHP Deputy Chairman Haluk Koç told reporters following a meeting with party staff and CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu that six CHP deputies are on their way to Tunceli to coordinate efforts in locating the deputy. He said Malatya deputy Veli Ağbaba, İstanbul deputies Müslim Sarı and Mahmut Tanal, Denizli deputy İlhan Cihaner and Ankara deputy Levent Gök are headed to the region.
He also criticized the government for not briefing the CHP and said the party is following developments “minute by minute.” “For the first time, a lawmaker has been kidnapped by the terrorist organization,” Koç said. “It shows what level terrorism has reached.”
NTV television reported that troops had launched an operation to try and find Aygün. The PKK has in the past kidnapped soldiers, government workers and tourists, but never a member of parliament. Most hostages they have kidnapped have been released without being harmed.
Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin confirmed that police and troops have launched an operation to locate the parliamentarian. Aygün was elected to Parliament from Tunceli, where he worked as a lawyer for 14 years. According to his personal website, his work focused on human rights abuses, such as the forcible evacuations of Kurdish villages to quell support for the PKK in rural areas, as well as cases of torture.
The kidnapping comes days after the government claimed troops killed as many as 115 PKK operatives in the southeastern town of Şemdinli in 20-day military operation and after Aygün's party called for an extraordinary meeting in Parliament on Tuesday to discuss the fight against the group.