Firm quits Iraq to help free staff

Kuwait and Gulf Link Transport Co (KGL) has said it will halt its operations in Iraq after a group holding seven of its drivers captive said they would be release if the firm stopped its work in the country.

    Armed fighters have kidnapped many people in Iraq

    "KGL welcomes the statement by the ... [group] on its willingness to release the seven drivers. And so the company has agreed to stop its operations in Iraq and would like to say it has no presence currently in Iraq," a company statement said on Friday. 

    A group calling itself the Black Banners Division of the Islamic Secret Army said in a video statement on Thursday it would free the three Kenyans, three Indians and one Egyptian and that it only demanded KGL should end its work in Iraq first - forsaking other conditions the kidnappers had made earlier. 

    The video showed the seven captives sitting in front of the group's flag and surrounded by masked men. 

    Compensation

    In addition to leaving Iraq, the group had earlier demanded
    KGL should pay compensation to families who had suffered in air strikes on the Iraqi city of Falluja. The company statement said nothing about any compensation. 

    "The company has agreed to stop its operations in Iraq and would like to say it has no presence currently in Iraq" 

    KGL statement

    Talks between KGL and the group to free the seven men captured in July had been mediated by Iraqi tribal leader Shaikh Hisham al-Dulaymi. 

    Resistance fighters have captured many people in Iraq to drive out those supporting the US-led occupation force and the Iraqi interim administration.

    Minister's relative released

    In other developments, fighters who had kidnapped two relatives of Iraqi Defence Minister Hazim al-Shaalan have released one of them.

    A group calling itself the Brigades of God's Anger freed Salah Hasan Zaidan Lami, a relative of al-Shaalan by marriage, after Iraqi police met their demand to release Ali

    Smaisim, an aide to Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr. 

    There was no word on the other captured man - a blood
    relative of al-Shaalan.

    The fighters had earlier demanded in a video aired on Aljazeera on Wednesday that US forces should leave the city of Najaf, the scene of fierce clashes between Sadr's fighters and US forces. 

    The footage had shown the two men kneeling in front of masked fighters, but no audio could be heard.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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