ISTANBUL, Turkey – Two Turkish hostages were freed by Iraqi militants Sunday, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official said, less than a week after the men's employers said they were ending operations in Iraq to save the lives of their employees.
The Turkish engineers — Ali Daskin (search) and Abdullah Ozdemir (search) — "were released. They're now at the embassy in Baghdad," Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Namik Tan told The Associated Press.
The two men were kidnapped from a construction site in Iraq. In a video broadcast Wednesday on two private Turkish television stations, the militants said they would kill the men if their companies did not leave within three days.
Hours later, the two companies that employed the men said they were withdrawing all staff from Iraq.
Tan said he had received a telephone call from diplomats at the embassy notifying him that the men had been released Sunday afternoon.
The firms said they decided to withdraw from Iraq without "hesitation" to protect human life.
In the video, the two Turks were seen kneeling in front of two armed insurgents, holding up their Turkish passports.
"We've been kidnapped by Mujaheeden," Daskin, who had a bruise under his left eye, said in the video. "Don't collaborate with Americans in Iraq. Try not to do more business in Iraq and try to help us."
Al-Qaida linked militants loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi recently shot dead another Turkish hostage, Murat Yuce, who worked for another Turkish company.
Several other Turks are believed to still be held as hostages in Iraq.