15 more Turkish citizens 'abducted by ISIL militants' in Iraq

15 more Turkish citizens 'abducted by ISIL militants' in Iraq

TUZ KHORMATO - Doğan News Agency
15 more Turkish citizens abducted by ISIL militants in Iraq

Iraqis get out of a vehicle in front of a checkpoint held by militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadist group on June 16, in Iraq's second biggest city of Mosul. AFP Photo

Some 60 foreign workers, including 15 Turkish citizens, have been kidnapped by militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq on June 17, an eyewitness has told Doğan News Agency.

The workers were traveling from the town of Dor near Tikrit in the Salahaddin province, where they were building a hospital, while trying to reach the Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah in the north of the country, when they were abducted close to Kirkuk.

“They were intending to return to their countries after reaching Sulaymaniyah,” said Turgay Hürmüzlü, a worker who was part of the group. Hürmüzlü said ISIL militants released him afterward because of his Iraqi citizenship.

"The embassy in Baghdad is investigating the reports," a Turkish foreign ministry official said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue. He gave no further details.

It was not immediately clear when the abduction might have taken place.

The other kidnapped workers were from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkmenistan and Nepal, Hürmüzlü said.

Separately, the Indian government was unable to make contact with 40 Indian builders who may have been kidnapped in Mosul, according to an Indian foreign ministry spokesman. 

ISIL militants kidnapped some 49 staff members of Turkey's Mosul consulate and 31 truck drivers after they seized Mosul late June 9. One of the Turkish drivers managed to escape over last weekend.

Ankara remains on alert and decided to evacuate its consulate in the southern city of Basra June 17 due to security concerns. Turkish officials have also issued a travel warning to Iraq, calling on their citizens to leave the country. The Baghdad Embassy remains open to deal with the evacuation of Turks from the country, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said.  

Deputy Foreign Minister Naci Koru, who coordinates the crisis desk in Ankara, said a very large number of Turkish citizens were working in Iraq and many of them did not have legal status.