Murat Karayılan, one of the leading commanders of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), who was reportedly captured in an operation by Iranian security forces on Aug. 16, was wounded during the operation, the Yeni Şafak daily reported on Wednesday.
According to the report, Karayılan and his bodyguards were captured in August in the Kandil Mountains by Iranian soldiers, who were able to locate the PKK administrator by relying on intelligence provided by Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MİT). Later, Yeni Şafak claimed, Karayılan was taken to the Iranian city of Urmia. He was released after a lengthy round of negotiations with Iranian intelligence officers, but all members of the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), the PKK's Iranian wing, were ordered out of Kandil, where both the PKK and PJAK have hideouts and camps.
The report said this compulsory trip was not Karayılan's first to Urmia. In 2010, according to intelligence reports, Karayılan visited the city, where he had talks with Iranian intelligence officials. During his visit, he stayed at Urmia Hotel. He also visited wounded PKK members in an Azeri hospital in the city. Yeni Şafak also said the PKK opened its own hospital in the city of Naghadeh in 2008. On top of that, Yeni Şafak also claimed that Karayılan was shot in the left shoulder during the Iranian operation.
There had been reports of Karayılan's capture before, with Turkish officials often dismissing them as rumor. But when the news broke on Aug. 16 there were different reactions. Three ministers gave three very different responses to queries about Karayılan's alleged capture.
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, who is also the government spokesman, was first reported by journalists in Ankara on Tuesday as having cautiously confirmed the news, saying: “These [reports] are true. There might have been some negotiations,” but Arınç later released a written statement denying that the statement as quoted in the press was made by him.
Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz also made a statement, warning against believing any statements until these are confirmed by Turkey's intelligence units. Interior Minister Naim Şahin sounded less vague yet still reserved, saying, “We will make an announcement when the time for that comes,” but didn't specify what the content of the announcement would be.
Davutoğlu on Karayılan
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Wednesday also commented on the alleged capture and release of senior PKK leader Karayılan. He said only official statements from the involved parties should be treated as the truth. Davutoğlu said Turkey and Iran have been cooperating "intensively" against terrorism, adding that this cooperation was still in place.
Öcalan's brother visits him in prison
Meanwhile, on Wednesday Mehmet Öcalan, the brother of Abdullah Öcalan -- nicknamed Apo -- the jailed leader of the PKK, visited his brother in İmralı Prison. Family members of the two other inmates in İmralı, an island in the Sea of Marmara, also sailed to the island from Gemlik in Bursa. The visitors were expected to return late on Tuesday evening. Both Mehmet Öcalan and the two other visitors were reported to be carrying with them bags filled with newspapers and other supplies for the inmates to read.