ISTANBUL – Kurdish guerrillas have kidnapped three German tourists on a climbing expedition in eastern Turkey, a local governor was reported as saying on Wednesday.

State-run Anatolian news agency reported Governor Mehmet Cetin as saying Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants were behind the kidnapping of the three tourists, who were part of a 13-member climbing team, in Agri province.

Kidnapping tourists is a rare tactic for the PKK whose activities are mainly focused on attacking military targets in southeast Turkey.

Agri province borders Iran and is the site of Mount Ararat, a popular destination for mountain climbers.

The governor said the climbers had arrived in the region three days ago and had established a camp at a height of 3,200 metres (10,500 feet) on Mount Ararat.

Five PKK militants approached the camp and kidnapped three people, he said.

“The terrorists said they carried out this action because of the German government’s recent moves against PKK associations and sympathisers,” Anatolian reported the governor as saying.

He said gendarmerie forces were carrying out search operations in the region. The other climbers were taken to the nearest town.

The PKK, considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984 with the aim of establishing an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey.

Some 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.