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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Commandos storm and retrieve Ferry in Turkey – all passengers safe

Many countries are affected by internal conflicts which spill over the border and sometimes is fought on air and sea !

The Kurds are Iranians native to the middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. They speak the Kurdish language and number about 30 million.  Ethnic Kurds compose a significant portion of the population in Turkey.  The conflict is almost a century old, as reportedly in the 1930s, Turkish government policy aimed to forcibly assimilate and Turkify local Kurds. Since 1984, Kurdish resistance movements included both peaceful political activities for basic civil rights for Kurds within Turkey, and violent armed rebellion for a separate Kurdish state.   There has been armed conflict between the Republic of Turkey and various Kurdish insurgent groups which have demanded separation from Turkey to create an independent Kurdistan.

The Republic of Turkey is a Eurasian country located in WEsten Asia bordered by  Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq and Syria.  It has the Mediterranean Sea, Aegean Sea and Black sea, as also the sea of Marmara.   Turkey is one of the six independent Turkic states and vast majority of its  population are Muslims.

The country was abuzz with news as a passenger ferry with 20 people was held hostage near Istanbul today (12/11/11) and there were news that 5 suspected Kurdish militants armed with explosives were in control of the vessel.  The high speed sea bus was tracked in the Sea of Marmara by Turkish commandos.  The vessel had to anchor west of Istanbul as it ran low on fuel.  The ferry had been on a short run between the towns of Izmit and Karamursel.  Initial reports indicated that there had been no concrete demands from the hijackers who only wanted immediate refuelling and provision of food. There were fears that those who were holding the boat were members of a terror organization.  In a scenario where thousands had been killed in the conflict, this hijacking purportedly represented a change in tactics of the militants. No outfit immediately claimed ownership of the hijack though. 

The ship captain was reported as communicating that the assailants were armed and there were explosives on board.  The Captain was reported to have been directed to speak to a newschannel and a lone male voice was heard in the background.

It wa a ferry named   "Kartepe" and  was carrying 18 passengers, five of them women, and six crew members when it was hijacked soon after setting off around 5.45 pm local time  (1545 GMT) on 11-11-11.  The   ferry was a couple of kilometres off the coast near Selimpasa, a small town about 50 km (30 miles) west of Istanbul.   There reportedly had been a  series of aircraft hijackings but they have been rare in recent years and hijackings at sea are even rarer.
Photo of the incident from

Few minutes back, there are news reports in BBC and Daily  Mail that Turkish security forces have killed a hijacker who seized  the ferry.  It was reported that  Anti-terrorist commandos stormed the vessel at dawn and shot the lone hijacker dead.  All 24 passengers and crew are safe after being held hostage for 12 hours, officials say.  The hijacker claimed to be carrying a bomb, which was later said to be fake. He is believed to have belonged to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Istanbul Governor was quoted as saying that a joint security forces operation was taken this morning and shortly thereafter, the vessel was boarded and assailant killed.  The hijacker was about 30, according to news.  Not bombs, but a  mechanism made of bottles and wires, which was designed to look like a bomb, was found. 

The passengers should feel lucky and happier after they were held hostages for 12 hours

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.


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