Turkish PM: Turkish workers held in Baghdad released

Turkish PM: Turkish workers held in Baghdad released
Turkish PM tweets that Turkey's envoy in Iraq has received 16 Turkish workers, who were held captive by an armed Shia group earlier this month in Baghdad.
2 min read
30 September, 2015
Two of the workers were released earlier [Anadolu]

Turkey's state-run news agency says Turkish workers who were kidnapped in Baghdad have been released. 

The Anadolu Agency says Wednesday the workers were freed in the city of Basra and were traveling to Baghdad. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said 16 workers were freed.  

The 18 employees of major Turkish construction firm Nurol Insaat were seized by gunman on September 2 in the Sadr City area of northern Baghdad, where they were working on a football stadium project. 

Men armed with submachine guns and wearing black uniforms and balaclavas stood behind 18 men said to be the kidnapped Turks in a video posted online.    

The militants identified themselves as "Furaq al-Mawt," or "Death Squads," in text appearing behind them alongside the words "We are at your service, O Hussein." 

The militant group issued a list of demands it said Turkey must fulfil for them to be released.  One of their demands of the militia was that Turkey order rebel forces to stop besieging four Shia villages in northern Syria. 

The demands, addressed to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, included Ankara stopping "the flow of militants from Turkey to Iraq," and "the passage of stolen oil from Kurdistan through Turkish territory."   

Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region is independently exporting oil via Turkey in a move that the federal government considers illegal - a point of contention between Baghdad and Ankara.  

But that demand could also potentially refer to oil stolen by the Islamic State group (IS, formerly ISIS), which overran large parts of Iraq last year.  

"If Erdogan and his party do not respond, we will crush Turkish interests and their agents in Iraq by the most violent means," the militants said.  

Dozens of Turks have been kidnapped in Iraq by IS over the past 18 months and later released.