Kurdish rebels free Turkish policeman

Turkish Kurdish rebels released a Turkish policeman in northern Iraq on Friday after keeping him hostage for more than three months, human rights activists said. Hakan Acil was released in the Iraqi border town of Zakho, said Kiraz Bicici, deputy head of Turkey's Human Rights Association.

Kurdish guerrillas abducted Acil on Oct. 9 after stopping his car at a roadblock near the southeastern town of Midyat, near the Syrian and Iraqi borders. Turkish troops had been searching for him for months. Acil was with his father and representatives from two Turkish NGOs, and was expected to arrive in Turkey by noon local time (around 1000 GMT), Bicici said. "We're in a car on the way to the border," she said from northern Iraq.

Kurdish guerrillas, staging hit and run attacks from their bases in northern Iraq, have been battling the Turkish military for autonomy in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast since 1984. The rebels have been known to resort to kidnappings while waging a war that has claimed more than 37,000 lives so far.

In July, Kurdish rebels abducted a soldier at a roadblock in southeastern Turkey and held him in captivity for three weeks before releasing him.

The guerrillas have been trying to pressure the Turkish government to negotiate, but Turkey considers them terrorists and refuses to do so. A unilateral cease-fire initiated by the rebels on Aug. 20 expired Oct. 3, reports the AP. I.L.

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