ISIL kidnaps Turkish consul, special forces, children in northern Iraqi hotspot
Faruk Balıkçı - Okan Konuralp
An ISIL-affiliated Twitter account has a photo showing militants pray on June 11Militants seized 49 Turks and their relatives from the Turkish consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul June 11, a source in the Turkish prime minister's office said.
The group, including the consul general and several members of Turkey's special forces, was taken from the consulate building to a militant base. Turkish authorities had contacted militant groups and confirmed all were unharmed, the source said.
Sunni insurgents from an al Qaeda splinter group, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), seized Mosul on June 10 in a show of strength against Iraq's Shi'ite-led government.
"Certain militant groups in Mosul have been directly contacted to ensure the safety of diplomatic staff," a Turkish government source said.
The ISIL, which continued its offensive in northern Iraq on June 11, stormed the Turkish Consulate in Mosul at noon, according to media reports.
Militants took diplomats hostage and brought them to the ISIL headquarters in the city.
Efforts are under way to ensure the safety of diplomatic staff, two Turkish government sources told Reuters.
Turkey's Mosul Consul
General Öztürk Yılmaz
The phone lines of the Turkish Consulate in Mosul have been cut on June 10, though Ankara could still be communicating with Consul Öztürk Yılmaz through his cellphone. Yılmaz recently survived a bomb attack while traveling to the northern city of Arbil.
Meanwhile, 31 Turkish truck drivers remain as hostages of ISIL, which has sprung from the country's second-largest city to other Iraqi provinces, including Saladin.