16 Turk­ish work­ers kid­napped in Iraq for a month are re­leased

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY SUZAN FRASER AND SI­NAN SALA­HED­DIN

Six­teen Turk­ish work­ers kid­napped from a con­struc­tion site in Bagh­dad and held for nearly a month were re­leased on Wed­nes­day, Tur­key’s prime min­is­ter and Iraqi of­fi­cials said.

Prime Min­is­ter Ah­met Davu­to­glu said through his Twit­ter ac­count that the work­ers were handed over to the Turk­ish am­bas­sador in Iraq and that they were all in good health. He did not pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on the cir­cum­stances of his re­lease.

In Bagh­dad, the spokesman for the city’s mil­i­tary com­mand, Brig. Gen. Saad Maan Ibrahim con­firmed the re­lease and said the Turk­ish work­ers were now in­side the Turk­ish Em­bassy.

The men, em­ployed by Turk­ish con­struc­tion com­pany Nurol In­saat, were part of a group of 18 Turk­ish work­ers snatched in Bagh­dad’s Shi­ite-dom­i­nated Sadr City on Sept. 2. Af­ter their ab­duc­tion, a video from a pre­vi­ously un­known mil­i­tant group showed the hostages and de­manded Tur- key halt the flow of mil­i­tants into Iraq, stop the pas­sage of oil from Iraq’s north­ern Kur­dish re­gion via Turk­ish ter­ri­tory and lift what was de­scribed as a “siege” on Syr­ian cities.

The brazen ab­duc­tion laid bare se­ri­ous se­cu­rity gaps in the heav­ily guarded Bagh­dad. Then, two of the kid­napped work­ers were re­leased later in Septem­ber in the south­ern city of Basra, a pre­dom­i­nantly Shi­ite area of Iraq.

Davu­to­glu thanked “Iraqi friends” who had worked to­ward the men’s re­lease, with­out elab­o­rat­ing. “Prepa­ra­tions are un­der­way to en­sure their re­turn home as soon as pos­si­ble,” he said.

Ibrahim told The As­so­ci­ated Press that the 16 work­ers were found Wed­nes­day in the town of Musayyib, about 60 kilo­me­ters south of Bagh­dad.

An Iraqi na­tional was kid­napped along with the Turks. Gun­men stormed the site on Sept. 2 as the work­ers were sleep­ing in car­a­vans, break­ing down doors and dis­arm­ing the guards be­fore tak­ing the work­ers away.

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