ISTANBUL, Turkey – Armed assailants attacked a convoy of Turkish trucks delivering supplies to U.S. forces in Iraq and took two Turkish drivers hostage, their company said Monday.
Meanwhile, two Lebanese truck drivers kidnapped two weeks ago in Iraq were freed and were headed back to Lebanon, one of their brothers said. He did not say if any concessions had been made for their release.
Kidnappers in Iraq have frequently targeted truck drivers hauling material in and out and have demanded either money or that their employers stop working in Iraq in support of the U.S. military and the pro-U.S. government.
The two Turks, identified as Mustafa Koksal and Durmus Kumdereli, were abducted outside the northern Iraqi city of Mosul (search) after delivering bottled water to a U.S. base in Baghdad on Saturday, said Oktay Gorgun, an official with the trucking company based in the southern Turkish city of Mersin (search).
Gorgun said he received the news of the kidnapping from four other drivers, who had been traveling in Koksal and Kumdereli's convoy when it stopped at the restaurant, where the attack occurred. The other four men escaped capture by hiding, Gorgun said.
"We have not received any news about any demands from the kidnappers," said Gorgun, who asked that his company not be identified out of fear of possible retribution.
Interim Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawer (search) visited the Turkish capital on Monday for meetings where security for Turkish workers in Iraq was discussed.
In the past two months, militants in Iraq have executed one Turkish worker in Iraq and kidnapped several other truck drivers, prompting some Turkish companies to stop deliveries.
The two Lebanese drivers, Taha al-Jundi and Khaldoun Othman, were freed Monday, Khaldoun's brother, Waleed Othman said in his hometown of Akkar in northern Lebanon.
They were among four Lebanese snatched in the first week of August. Taha al-Jundi and his brother, Nasser, were abducted while hauling electric generators. Khaldoun Othman and Kassem Murqbawi were kidnapped while carrying Lebanese-produced juice to Iraq.
Murqbawi and Nasser al-Jundi were freed on Aug. 9.
Hundreds of Lebanese, mainly construction workers and industrialists, have gone to Iraq to look for opportunities in the postwar reconstruction.
Several have been kidnapped and released this year, sometimes after the payment of ransom. At least one Lebanese hostage, Hussein Alyan, was killed.