A group of suspected Kurdish militants has hijacked a passenger ferry boat with 24 people on board from a Turkish coastal town just outside Istanbul.
Transport Minister Binali Yildirim said Friday the intention of the hijackers is not known, but there are reports they are linked with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. He said the ferry Kartepe has run out of fuel after sailing out from Izmit and is anchored in the Sea of Marmara. He said the hijackers are demanding food and fuel.
The transport minister also said the authorities are considering the request with the view of ensuring the safety of the 18 passengers, including five women. Other people on board are four crew members and two trainees. Yildirim said there is no indication that anyone is hurt.
One of the hijackers had claimed to have a bomb, but Turkish officials said they could not determine if it is true.
Turkish coast-guard vessels are following the hijacked ferry.
Turkish media reported that the ferry was traveling between Izmit and the town of Golcuk in Kocaeli province Friday evening, when the hijackers seized control of the vessel.
The Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, in recent months has increased its attacks against Turkish security forces with suicide bombings. The group claims to be fighting for increased civil and political rights in Turkey.
The United States and Turkey have labeled the PKK a terrorist organization.
Turkey’s government has cracked down on anyone suspected of belonging to or collaborating with the PKK, saying the group is a growing threat. The military has launched a series of attacks against PKK bases along the country’s border with Iraq.
More than 40,000 have died since the PKK took up arms against the Turkish government in 1984.
Attempts earlier this year to resolve the conflict failed.