Turkish troops launched a search yesterday for a lawmaker kidnapped by Kurdish rebels near the eastern city of Tunceli, authorities and the lawmaker's party said. Huseyin Aygun, from the main opposition Republican People's Party, was abducted last night at a roadblock between the town of Ovacik and Tunceli; a journalist and an adviser traveling with him were set free. "For the first time, a lawmaker has been kidnapped by the terrorist organization," a party spokesperson said. "It shows where the level of terrorism has reached."
The rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, are fighting for autonomy in the Kurdish-dominated southeast region and maintain bases in northern Iraq from where they launch hit-and-run attacks on Turkish targets. The group is considered a terrorist organization by the US and EU. It has previously kidnapped soldiers, local politicians, government workers, journalists, and tourists, but never a lawmaker. Local media reported that Aygun was kidnapped under orders from Kurdish rebel command, which is based deep in northern Iraq. A local official said troops were chasing the rebels and a larger operation would be launched early today.