PKK member killed after hijacking ferry
The ferry was hijacked around 6 p.m. on Friday in the Marmara Sea. Special forces stormed the ferry, which was carrying 18 passengers and the crew at down. AA photo
Turkish commandos killed a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on Saturday after he hijacked a ferry with 24 people aboard in the country’s northwest and brought the hostages to safety after a 12-hour ordeal.
Special forces stormed the ferry, which was carrying 18 passengers and the crew, at dawn and killed the hijacker off the coast of Silivri, a town west of Istanbul, media reports and hostage accounts said. “We saw the commandos boarding. They finished it in 10 minutes,” hostage Ceyhun Tezel told private channel NTV. “We didn’t see them (killing the hijacker), but we heard three shots first, and then three more,” he said.
Another hostage Kemal Karagül said they hadn’t seen the hijacker at all.
“We just heard his voice from the deckhouse. He ordered the ferry staff to bring us food. Then he gathered us all together in the middle floor of the ferry. We just waited there and then we heard the guns,” he said.
Interior Minister Idris Naim Şahin told NTV that the assailant was 27-year-old Mensur Güzel, head of the youth branch of the PKK in Kocaeli province, and that he was carrying a bomb.
Şahin said Güzel was carrying three pieces of A-4 explosives, each 450 grams, and five empty bottles, the minister said, adding that the incident was “serious” but handled “successfully.”
He said it was not possible to arrest the hijacker alive. “Officers tried to convince him (to surrender) during the whole night,” he said. “They told him everything they could.” His motives, however, were still unclear, officials said.
“The terrorist did not clearly specify his aims, so we do not have clear information about his demands,” said Technology Minister Nihat Ergün, Anatolia news agency reported.
Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim also said the hijacker only demanded basics such as food and drink, Anatolia said.
Officials’ remarks conflicted over the hijacker’s connections with the PKK and whether he was carrying a real bomb.
Kocaeli Gov. Ercan Topaca said earlier that the hijacker was carrying a fake bomb made up of wires and bottles. Topaca also voiced suspicions over his connection with the PKK.
The ferry “Kartepe” was hijacked around 6 p.m. on Friday in the Marmara Sea, where PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan is imprisoned on an Imralı Island, about 120 kilometers southwest from where the Kartepe was taken. Turkish media say the hijacker was assumed to be heading for the island.
The boat was plying its normal route in the northern part of the sea when it was seized. It anchored off Silivri after sailing in circles until it ran out of gas, according to media reports.
Measures were boosted around Imralı, said pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency, which is known to have close links to the PKK. Ocalan has not been allowed to see his lawyers for months, it added.
After prosecutors conducted their investigation onboard, the ferry sailed to nearby Ambarli port under escort of security officials, media reports said. The body of the hijacker, which was kept on the ferry after the operation was over, was to be sent to a forensic medicine unit in Istanbul, Anatolia said.