Turkish firm quits Iraq to save captive

The parent company of a Turkish firm, which quit Iraq earlier in the week, has said it will also leave the war-torn country, after the pleas of one of its captured workers.

    Aytullah Gezmen is employed by services company Bilintur

    In a telephone interview with Aljazeera.net, Tepe Construction said on Thursday it planned to withdraw all of its employees starting on Friday morning in an attempt to save the life of Aytullah Gezmen, who is employed by Bilintur services firm.

    Earlier on Thursday, in a grainy videotape shown by Turkey's private NTV television, Gezmen said his captors would kill him if Bilintur and its parent company Tepe, a construction firm, did not leave the country.

    "If Tepe and Bilintur do not pull out of Iraq within 72 hours, I will be killed," Gezmen said. 

    Gezmen spoke in Arabic and Turkish and pleaded for help from Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. 

    Gezmen was captured three weeks ago along with a colleague, Mehmet Yuce, who was shot dead. Armed fighters released a videotape of the killing earlier this month. 

    Gezmen's employer, Bilintur, said this week it had already withdrawn from Iraq, pulling its 130 employees in order to avoid putting his life at risk. 

    'Shocked'

    "We were shocked when we saw Gezmen on the tape as we thought that after pulling out our Bilintur employees from Iraq [on 15 August], the kidnappers will release him," said Zafer Ergun, the company's overseas coordinator.

    "Now after hearing his declaration, we will withdraw Tepe, the parent company, from Iraq as well," Ergun told Aljazeera.net, adding that in 72 hours starting from Friday all of Tepe's employees will be out of Iraq.

    Ergun refused to disclose the number of employees working for Tepe for "security reasons".

    Scores of foreign workers in Iraq have been captured since April. Many have been released, but others have been killed. 

    Several Turkish firms have withdrawn amid security concerns for their staff. 

    Turkish trucks and trailers make about 700,000 trips to Iraq each year, earning Turkey billions of dollars in exports. 

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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