British tourist released by Kurdish rebels in Turkey

 

Kurdish rebels have released a British tourist unharmed a day after his abduction in Turkey's south east, officials said today.

The Foreign Office confirmed the abduction and the subsequent release of the man, but didn't provide his name.

"We can confirm that a British national has now been released," the Foreign Office said. "He has since been in touch with his family in the UK."

Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency identified the man as James Masami Miyazaki-Ross.

He was freed Sunday evening near the town of Genc, about 25 miles north of where he was kidnapped, the governor's office in the south-eastern province of Diyarbakir said today.

The man was travelling on a bus when he was abducted by the rebels on Saturday night near the town of Lice, the agency said.

Kurdish rebels, fighting for autonomy, have kidnapped but released several foreign tourists unharmed to attract world attention to their cause since they took up arms in 1984. The rebels last kidnapped three German climbers from Mount Ararat in far-eastern Turkey in 2008 but released them unharmed.

The rebels belong to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, a group that is considered a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States.

The release of the Briton coincided with a political debate in Turkey over how to end the conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people so far.

In latest reported violence, a major and a sergeant were killed near Lice today when they stepped on land mines, believed to have been planted by the rebels, Anadolu reported.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to meet the leader of the main opposition party on Wednesday to discuss efforts to reconcile with Kurds - who make up around 20% of Turkey's 75 million people.

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