Turkey has said that 80 of its citizens held by Islamist extremists in northern Iraq have not been harmed, as talks to secure their release continue.
Sunni insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant seized the Turks, including diplomats, consular staff and children in the city of Mosul on Wednesday. Around 30 Turkish truck drivers are also among the group.
Describing the current situation as delicate, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu claimed negotiations had reached a critical phase: “We don’t have any negative reports about their health. We continue to negotiate and we are making every effort to secure their release,” he said.
Turkey’s foreign ministry has warned its citizens against travel to Iraq and called on those already there to leave the country.
The warning came as US weapons giant Lockheed Martin also announced it was evacuating around 25 of its employees from the Balad area in northern Iraq because of the growing violence in the region.