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Turkish PM says workers kidnapped in Iraq have been released (Updated)

Kidnapped Turks

Sixteen Turkish workers abducted by militants in Iraq a month ago have been released and are with embassy officials, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday.

The men were snatched on Sept. 2 from a stadium they were building on the outskirts of Baghdad, apparently by an armed group that used a familiar Shi’ite Muslim slogan and threatened to attack Turkish interests in Iraq if its demands were not met.

Turkey’s ambassador to Iraq, Faruk Kaymakci, tweeted an image of the men outside the embassy and said they were expected to leave Baghdad and travel to the capital Ankara.

The men had appeared in an online video on Tuesday that promised their release after the United Nations backed a deal to extricate Syrian villagers under siege from rebels supported by Turkey.

“Our abducted 16 workers have just been received by our Baghdad embassy. I have spoken to some of them by telephone. Thankfully, they are in good health and are preparing to return (home) in the shortest possible time,” Davutoglu said in a series of tweets.

Asked about the terms of the release, Kaymakci said none were discussed.

“Their health conditions are OK. They have no problem or anything,” Kaymakci also told Reuters.

Baghdad has struggled to rein in Shi’ite armed groups, seen as a critical deterrent against Islamic State militants who control large swathes of the north and west.

The city has also seen a proliferation in recent years of well-armed criminal gangs carrying out contract killings, kidnappings and extortion.

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