ISTANBUL - TDN with wire dispatches

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which last week kidnapped three Germans in Turkey, said Sunday it was �strong enough� to hit German economic targets, an agency close to the terrorist group reported.
The group also renewed a call on Berlin to end �hostile� policies toward the group in return for the release of the three climbers kidnapped in the east of the country.
A PKK statement, carried by the Fırat news agency, singled out Chancellor Angela Merkel's government as the target of the hostage taking, saying that the group had no ill feelings against Germany as a nation.
�Had we had (such feelings) we could have inflicted greater damage to German economic interests in Turkey... We are strong enough to inflict such damage,� it said. �The Merkel government, together with the Turkish government, must give up sacrificing the Kurdish people's freedom struggle in the name of certain economic interests,� it added.
Last Tuesday, the PKK seized three Germans in the eastern province of Ağrı, who were part of a tourist group climbing Mount Ararat. The PKK said it would keep the hostages unless Berlin ended a crackdown on PKK militants and their supporters in Germany. Last month, German authorities banned the Danish-based Roj TV from broadcasting in the country because it promoted the PKK. They also ordered the closure of a production house that supplied the channel with programming.
In an interview with Germany's Bild newspaper Sunday, Merkel issued a personal appeal for the immediate release of the hostages, saying that Berlin would not allow itself to be blackmailed.
German press on the other hand commenting on the kidnapping, said the incident revealed the PKK's weakness. An article in daily Die Welt reminded that the organization had not kidnapped foreigners for 17 years, and now it was changing its strategy in order to make its demands accepted through blackmail. �The PKK is trying to attract the world's attention after taking big blows economically and militarily,� it said.

Three terrorists, two soldiers die in clashes
Meanwhile three terrorists and two Turkish soldiers were killed in clashes in the southeastern province of Şırnak, a Reuters report said yesterday. The terrorists were killed in a clash Sunday after security forces identified a PKK group during search operations in the region. The Turkish soldiers died in a separate clash in an area close to the Cudi Mountains.
An air and ground operation was launched in both regions after the clashes and is ongoing. Special commando units landed at strategic points. This year the Turkish military has launched a series of raids against the group in northern Iraq.