Turk freed by kidnappers in Iraq

Wext: Tuesday, 07.September. @ 00:00:00 CEST


06. 09. 2004 - Kidnappers in Iraq have released a Turkish driver, a day after his employers said they were pulling out of the country to secure his freedom.

The group holding Midhat Civi had threatened to behead him unless his firm and others from Turkey stopped "co-operating" with US troops in Iraq.

It was not immediately clear where Mr Civi was being kept after his release.

Meanwhile, France says it is hopeful the kidnap ordeal of two French journalists may be nearing an end.

Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot disappeared on 20 August in the southern city of Najaf and intense negotiations by French diplomats raised hopes last week for their imminent release.

The abduction of Mr Civi was announced two days ago by a group calling itself the Islamic Resistance Movement - Noman Brigades.

In a video aired by al-Arabiya television he said his captors, whom he called "brothers", had treated him well and he called on Turkish drivers to stop taking goods to Iraq.

At least two Turkish drivers have been killed by their kidnappers in Iraq in recent months. Several others have been freed after their employers ended operations in Iraq.

French hopes

French officials say there are indications that Mr Chesnot and Mr Malbrunot will be freed soon.

"We still want to believe that their liberation will come as soon as possible," Culture and Communications Minster Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres told French television, adding that the government was "very cautious".

A senior French Muslim involved in the negotiations said it had reached the "delivery phase".

Fouad Alaoui, secretary general of the Union of French Islamic Organisations, said the hostages were no longer in the hands of their first kidnappers but had been handed over to the "Iraqi resistance."

The French foreign minister went on a tour of the Middle East last week mustering strong Arab support for the journalists' release.

However, a senior cleric said on Sunday that a US-led raid on the area where the men were seized had "disrupted the process of their release".

Hardline Sunni cleric Sheikh Mehdi al-Sumaidi added that he had issued a fatwa, or a religious edict, demanding that they be freed quickly.

France has refused to bow to a demand from the kidnappers to revoke legislation banning Islamic headscarves in state schools that came into force last week.

In a separate development, Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher said that four drivers kidnapped recently have been released.

Mr Muasher told reporters that three of the drivers were Jordanians and one was Sudanese. He provided few other details.

Source: BBC

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