Iraqi captors release foreign drivers

Seven employees of a Kuwaiti trucking company, as well as a Turkish lorry driver, who had been held captive in Iraq, have been released by their captors.

    Most Turks held in Iraq have been truck drivers

    A spokesperson for Kuwait and Gulf Link Transport Company (KGL), Rana Abu Zaina, confirmed on Wednesday that three Kenyans, three Indians and one Egyptian were on their way to Kuwait. They were abducted on 21 July.

    The kidnappers had repeatedly changed their demands and extended deadlines set for killing the seven.
     
    The transport company said last month it would halt its operations in Iraq after a group calling itself the Black Banners Division of the Islamic Secret Army said they would release the seven men if the firm ended its work in the occupied country.

    The group had dropped its earlier condition for KGL to compensate families who had suffered in air strikes on the Iraqi city of Falluja.

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

    The Turkish lorry driver who was also freed on Wednesday, had been held captive in Iraq since 7 August, Turkish television news channel NTV reported.

    Demands

    NTV showed driver Tahsin Top looking well and receiving a Quran from his captors, in the company of two masked men without weapons.

    The Turkish foreign ministry could not immediately confirm to AFP that Top had been released.

    Top had been abducted on the road between Tikrit and Mosul, in northern Iraq, by a group identifying itself as the Abd al-Qadir al-Gailani Brigade, which is part of the so-called Islamic Secret Army.

    The captors demanded that the company which employs Top, Atahan Lojistik, withdraw from Iraq.

    Atahan Lojistik announced its immediate withdrawal after Top was shown on video, visibly nervous and surrounded by masked men.

    Deterrent

    "They are killing... Please, driver colleagues, don't come to Iraq. If not you'll end up in the same situation as me. We can make a living anywhere else"

    Tahsin Top,
    Turkish captive

    In the video, which was picked up by Turkish television stations, the driver spoke in Turkish and showed various documents to prove his identity.

    "They are killing... Please, driver colleagues, don't come to Iraq. If not you'll end up in the same situation as me," he said. "We can make a living anywhere else."

    He added: "The United States are our enemy. Iraq is our brother."

    Most Turks taken hostage in Iraq so far have been lorry drivers. All have been freed except Murat Yuce, who has been killed.

    A video released in July showed Yuce being shot in the head by one of his captors.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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