Turkey denies capture of senior PKK leader

ANKARA, Aug 15, 2011 (AFP) - Turkey has denied the capture of a senior leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), after media reports quoting Iranian officials sparked confusion.

"There has been no confirmed news or development at the moment. We'll make it public if any development takes place," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted as saying in the Turkish media late Sunday.

The confusion began when the head of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Alaaddin Burucerdi said the number two of the PKK was captured by Iranian intelligence, according to Turkey's Anatolia news agency citing Fars news agency as a source.

PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan has been serving a life-term in a Turkish prison since 1999 and Murat Karayilan is considered as the organisation's second in command.

On Sunday Davutoglu called his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi, to check the veracity of the reports but was told that Tehran had no information regarding the capture of Karayilan, Turkish media reported.

Both the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency and Roj TV, considered as the mouthpiece of the PKK, denied the news.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, took up arms in the Kurdish-majoriy southeast in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 45,000 lives.

Iran has been fighting against rebels from the Party for Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), an offshoot of the PKK. PJAK rebels often clash with Iranian forces, and their bases in the mountainous border regions of Iraqi Kurdistan from which they launch their attacks are bombed in retaliation.

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