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Masked men kidnap 18 Turkish workers in Baghdad

Published 02/09/2015

Turkey's Foreign Ministry confirmed 16 Turkish nationals were kidnapped in Baghdad
Turkey's Foreign Ministry confirmed 16 Turkish nationals were kidnapped in Baghdad

Masked men in military uniforms have kidnapped 18 Turkish employees of an Ankara-based construction company in Baghdad, bundling them into several SUVs and speeding away, according to Iraqi and Turkish officials.

They said the 18 are employed by Nurol Insaat, a Turkish construction company contracted to build a sports complex in the Shiite district of Sadr City.

The kidnappers stormed the construction site, where the workers were sleeping in caravans, breaking down doors and disarming the guards before taking the workers away.

The Iraqi officials said an Iraqi national was kidnapped along with the Turks.

Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said those kidnapped included 14 workers, three engineers and one accountant.

There were no reports of violence.

Turkish deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus confirmed the kidnapping and said Ankara was in close contact with authorities in Iraq.

"The Iraqi authorities for the time being do not have information on how the incident occurred or who captured them," he said.

In Baghdad, interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan said that authorities are investigating the incident and that a contingent of security forces has been tasked with tracking down the kidnappers.

Associated Press footage of the site taken hours after the kidnapping showed the sports complex to be almost complete. A sign outside said it includes a 30,000-seat football stadium, a track and field facility and a 50-room hotel.

Turkey recently began launching air strikes against the Islamic State group in Syria and allowing US warplanes to use bases in south-eastern Turkey to strike the Sunni extremist group.

It launched a simultaneous air campaign in northern Iraq against the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, a Kurdish militant group.

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