"Our company is ending activities in Iraq. We hope that our driver is safely returned to our country and to his family," Edip Rende, a partner in the Renay International transportation company, was quoted as saying on Sunday by the Anatolia news agency.  

Anatolia identified the captured Turk as 48-year-old Mithat Civi, a father of three who had been working in Kuwait and had left for Iraq a month ago. 

That report came out around the same time as that from a Kuwait-based firm which contracted Civi. "I announce that the firm is stopping its activities completely from this moment in Iraq," Ghassan Jasim, head of the Kuwaiti Saqr company, said in a statement aired on Al-Arabiya TV. 

The move came after a group calling itself the Islamic Resistance Movement -al-Nuaman Brigades- released a tape showing a bearded man, purported to be the Turkish truck driver, sitting in front of a black banner bearing the group's name in gold Arabic characters. 

The armed fighters threatened to behead the Turk unless his employers and their Kuwaiti contractor end operations in Iraq.

Previous withdrawals

Renay, a company based in the southern Turkish city of Antakya, was the latest in a series of Turkish companies to pull out of Iraq to try and secure the release of captured employees. 

The Jordanians were 'transporting
materials to US forces'

Last month, a Turkish worker, Murat Yuce, who worked at a company that provided laundry services, was shot three times in the head in Iraq by al-Qaida linked fighters loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian armed fighter held responsible for a series of bombings, kidnappings and other attacks in Iraq. 

In a separate capturing case earlier this week, a tape showing three Turkish captives being killed was sent to Aljazeera from the Tawhid and Jihad group, which is also said to be linked to al-Zarqawi. 

Jordanians captured

Meanwhile, Iraqi fighters have captured four Jordanian drivers for cooperating with US forces.

In a videotape sent to Aljazeera on Sunday, a group calling itself the "Falluja Mujahideen" said they are holding four Jordanian drivers who were transporting materials to US forces. The group  said it is warning all "those who are cooperating with the American forces in Iraq for the last time."

The videotape showed hooded man reading a statement in front of the captives.