Kurdish rebels kidnap Italian, Swiss touristsPARA: yilxrit. yibgrit.

ROME -- Kurdish rebels have kidnapped four foreign tourists, two Italians and two Swiss citizens, after they entered an area of eastern Turkey under the control of the military wing of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), the Italian foreign ministry said Saturday.

The ministry said the Italian embassy in Ankara had been contacted by the kidnappers, who seized the four near Turkey's eastern border with Iran Aug. 18, and was taking steps to ensure their release.


Italian state television named the hostages as Angelo Palego, from the town of Trecate in northern Italy, and Anna D'Andrea, another Italian citizen.

The Swiss citizens were identified as Giuseppe Rezzonico and Nico Pianta.

News reports said Palego, 53, was a Jehovah's Witness and amateur archeologist who claimed to have discovered the remains of Noah's Ark on Turkey's Mount Ararat and was leading an expedition to visit the site.

The military wing of the PKK said the four had been seized because they had not obtained the organization's permission to visit the area under its control.

Two Germans and a New Zealander were reported kidnapped by the same group Aug. 15.

A week earlier six other foreigners, four French citizens, a Briton and an Australian, were released by Kurdish rebels after being held for several weeks.


The PKK has been fighting for more than nine years for the independence of an area of southeastern Turkey inhabited by some 15 million Kurds.

Its campaign has involved the kidnapping of foreign tourists and bomb attacks against tourist targets in Turkey as well as armed conflict with the Turkish military.


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