Three Chinese engineers working in Turkey’s southeastern province of Sirnak were kidnapped by militants of the outlawed Kurdish Worker’s Party, or PKK, on Saturday, China's state-run Xinhua reported Monday, citing Turkish news agency Dogan.
The engineers were reportedly kidnapped from a shop in the town of Silopi, which lies on the Turkish border between Iraq and Syria, by PKK militants armed with long-barreled weapons. The militants then went on to attack a power plant construction site operated by China Machinery Engineering Corporation at the foot of Mount Cudi in Silopi district, Xinhua reported.
The Chinese embassy has reportedly "asked the Turkish government to go all out to rescue the missing Chinese workers while enhancing security measures for Chinese enterprises and employees in the country," Reuters reported, citing a Xinhua report, adding that the Turkish military has launched an operation to locate and rescue the kidnapped engineers.
In recent months, protests have erupted against the second planned power station in Silopi, which is being constructed by privately-owned Silopi Park Electricity, Reuters reported, citing local news agency Firat, adding that there has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the kidnappings or the attack.
The PKK, which is fighting for more Kurdish control in the region, has waged a three-decade long insurgency against Turkish authorities, and is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. A cease-fire in March 2013 saw a reduction in hostilities. However, tensions still run high between Kurdish communities and Turkish security forces in parts of southeastern Turkey.
In the past, PKK militants have reportedly kidnapped soldiers, engineers, journalists and others with the aim of securing a prisoner exchange. However, it is not known why the Chinese nationals were abducted this time, according to Reuters.