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Kurdish rebels free three German hostages


Berlin/Istanbul : Three German mountaineers seized by Kurdish rebels in eastern Turkey have been freed after 12 days in captivity, German and Turkish officials confirmed Sunday.

Lars Holger Renne, 33, Martin Georg S., 47, and Helmut Johann H., 65, all from Bavaria, were abducted July 8 by five Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas who raided a 3,200-metre camp on Mount Ararat.

A Turkish foreign ministry spokesman said the PKK freed the Germans in a mountainous area where they were found by Turkish police who had been searching for the men.

Bavarian Prime Minister Guenther Beckstein said he was happy that the hostage drama ended without bloodshed and the climbers would soon be able to return home to their families.

The three were part of a 13-member expedition attempting to scale Mount Arafat. The other climbers were left unharmed and returned to Germany shortly after the incident.