Authorities say Turkish commandos stormed a hijacked ferry Saturday and killed the lone hijacker.
Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu told reporters Saturday that the crew and passengers were all safe, and the identity of the hijacker is still being determined. Earlier reports said up to five suspected Kurdish militants armed with explosives carried out the hijacking.
The ferry Kartepe was carrying 18 passengers, including five women, along with four crew members and two trainees. It ran out of fuel Friday after sailing from Izmit and dropping anchor in the Sea of Marmara, where it was reported commandos boarded the vessel.
Turkish media reported that the ferry was traveling between Izmit and the town of Golcuk in Kocaeli province Friday evening when the vessel was seized by militants.
The Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, in recent months has increased its attacks against Turkish security forces with suicide bombings. The group says it is 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.