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Shiite Militia Releases 16 Turkish Workers Abducted in Iraq

Middle East
Members of the Iraqi security forces outside the Turkish embassy in Baghdad. “Our 16 workers have just been received by our Baghdad ambassador,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey said on Twitter.
By CEYLAN YEGINSU
September 30, 2015

ISTANBUL — Sixteen Turkish construction workers abducted four weeks ago by a Shiite militia in Iraq were released on Wednesday, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey said in a statement on Twitter.

The workers were among 18 employees of a Turkish construction company, Nurol Insaat, who were kidnapped in Baghdad on Sept. 2.

The group, which identified itself as the “Death Squads,” demanded that Turkey lift a siege on several Shiite towns and villages in Syria, claiming that they were under threat by Turkish-backed rebel groups.

“Our 16 workers have just been received by our Baghdad ambassador,” Mr. Davutoglu said on Twitter. “I talked to some of them on the phone.”

The other two hostages were released on Sept. 16.

The conditions of the release were not immediately clear, but the militia released a video on Sunday saying that its demands had been met.

In another video, released this month, the group called on the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to meet a list of demands, which included stopping the flow of jihadists into Iraq and the passage of oil from Iraq’s northern Kurdish region through Turkey.

The workers were taken hostage by armed gunmen in the Sadr City neighborhood in the north of Baghdad, where they were working on a soccer stadium.

After their release on Wednesday, Mr. Davutoglu said that preparations were underway to ensure their safe return to Turkey.

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(via NY Times)