ANKARA, March 2 (Xinhua) -- A village leader was kidnapped by suspected members of the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) in southeastern Turkey on Sunday, the military said.
The three suspects were believed to have kidnapped the leader of the Cigli village in the southeastern province of Hakkari, prompting authorities to launch an operation for his release, the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces said.
Meanwhile, hundreds of sympathizers of the PKK clashed with riot police early on Sunday after throwing Molotov cocktails at a bank and smashing the windows of several stores in the Fatih district of Turkey's largest city, Istanbul, Turkey's Daily News reported.
A group of PKK supporters torched a bank, setting several other stores on fire, said the report, adding that the group blocked roads with barricades. Riot police then fired water cannons and tear gas to disperse them.
The Turkish authorities started peace negotiations with the PKK in October 2012, which led to a ceasefire in March 2013, and in May 2013 PKK fighters started to return to their strongholds in northern Iraq.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and other countries, took up arms in 1984 in an attempt to create an ethnic homeland for the Kurds in southeastern Turkey. Since then, over 40, 000 people have been killed in conflicts involving the group.