Authorities say Turkish commandos stormed a hijacked ferry early Saturday and killed a Kurdish rebel who was carrying explosives.
Hostages say the special forces slipped aboard the ferry Kartepe before dawn as it was anchored off the coast of Silivry, a town west of Istanbul, and shot the hijacker dead within minutes. The hijacked vessel had dropped anchor Friday after running out of fuel.
Turkey's interior minister, Idris Naim Sahin, identified the hijacker as 27-year-old Mensur Guzel, head of the youth wing of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party in Kocaeli province. The minister said officers tried to convince the man to surrender, but it was not possible to arrest the hijacker alive.
Officials said plastic explosives were found on his body. Earlier reports said the hijacker was found with a fake bomb.
The ferry was carrying 18 passengers, including five women, along with four crew members and two trainees. None of the crew or passengers were harmed in the 12-hour ordeal.
The Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, in recent months has increased its attacks against Turkish security forces with suicide bombings. The group says it is fighting for increased civil and political rights in Turkey.
The United States and Turkey have labeled the PKK a terrorist organization.
Turkey's government has cracked down on anyone suspected of belonging to or collaborating with the PKK, saying the group is a growing threat. The military has launched a series of attacks against PKK bases along the country's border with Iraq.
More than 40,000 have died since the PKK took up arms against the Turkish government in 1984.
Attempts earlier this year to resolve the conflict failed.
Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.