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Seven Turks held hostage in Iraq
Updated: 2004-06-11 08:53

Iraqi insurgents are holding seven Turks hostage and demanding Turkish companies leave Iraq, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official said Thursday.

Dubai-based Al Arabiya television aired a videotape showing what it said were four of the seven Turkish hostages. Masked men, armed with automatic rifles, stood behind the hostages.

"It appears seven people have been taken hostage. We don't have any concrete information on their identities," the Turkish official told Reuters.

"They may have been bringing goods and providing logistical support for American companies in Iraq," he said, adding it was unclear when and where the men had been abducted.

The Turkish ambassador in Baghdad and Turkish intelligence services were working for the men's release, the official said.

Arabiya said the insurgents belonged to a group calling itself the Jihad (Holy War) Squadrons. They were demanding Turks protest the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.

A statement read by a group member condemned Turkish firms for supporting the U.S.-led occupation, Arabiya said.

Dozens of foreign workers have been taken hostage by armed Iraqi groups battling the U.S.-led presence in Iraq. Some hostages have been released but others have been killed.

The Turkish official said two Turks working for a Turkish contracting firm who were abducted this week had been released.

An Iraqi group is still holding Turkish truck driver Bulent Yanik and an Egyptian hostage and has threatened to kill them if their countries do not condemn the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.

"We don't know anything about recent developments (with Yanik). He's still being held, but we don't know where," the official said.

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