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Kurdish rebels kidnap a lawmaker in Turkey

From Talia Kayali, CNN
updated 4:56 AM EDT, Mon August 13, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Huseyin Aygun is kidnapped in eastern Turkey
  • His assistants are released
  • It marks the first time a lawmaker has been kidnapped, says a spokesman
  • Turkey has been fighting the PKK since 1984

(CNN) -- Kurdish rebels have kidnapped Turkish lawmaker Huseyin Aygun, his party said Sunday.

"It is true Huseyin Aygun is kidnapped. His assistants have been released, but there is no information about him," said Haluk Koc, spokesman for the opposition Republican People's Party.

"This is a first in Turkey. A parliamentarian has never been such a target before," he said.

Aygun was kidnapped in the eastern province of Tunceli, Koc said.

The news comes shortly after Turkish officials announced that forces have killed 115 Kurdish rebels since launching a security operation in southeastern Turkey late last month.

Turkey has been fighting the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, since 1984. Initially, the movement sought a separate homeland for Turkey's ethnic Kurdish minority. But now, the rebels say they are fighting for more linguistic and cultural freedoms.

Turkey, the United States and the European Union have formally labeled the PKK a terrorist organization.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

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