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German Mountaineers Taken Hostage on Turkey's Mt. Ararat

Three German mountaineers were taken hostage by separatists from the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) while climbing Mt. Ararat in eastern Turkey.

A PKK camp

Europe and the US consider the PKK a terrorist organization

Agri province Governor Mehmet Cetin said the three mountaineers were part of a group of 13 people climbing Turkey's highest peak, the Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday.

He said the group were at a camp at 3,200 meters altitude (10,500 feet) when a group of five PKK guerrillas took three of the mountaineers hostage at about 11:00 pm Tuesday night.

Cetin said the Germans had received official permission to climb the mountain. Mt. Ararat was closed to climbers between 1992 and 2000 because of PKK activity but was re-opened in 2000.

Ankara blames the separatist group for the deaths of more than 32,000 people since the early 1980s when the PKK began its fight for independence or autonomy for the mainly Kurdish-populated south-east of Turkey.

The PKK is listed by the United States and the European Union as a terrorist group.

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