ANKARA, Turkey – A Turkish driver taken hostage in Iraq was released by his captors on Monday, Turkey's Foreign Ministry said. The release came a day after the driver's company announced it would withdraw from Iraq in line with kidnappers' demands.
Mithat Civi (search) was released in Iraq, a Foreign Ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Turkish transport company that employed Civi, Renay International, said on Sunday that it was withdrawing from Iraq in an effort to save the life of the 48-year-old hostage whom Iraqi militants had threatened to behead.
Civi, a father of three, had been working in Kuwait (search) and had left for Iraq a month ago. Turkish media reports said the truck driver was abducted on Saturday.
Renay, a company based in the southern Turkish city of Antakya, was the latest in a series of Turkish companies to pull out of Iraq to try and secure the release of captured employees.
The move came after a group calling itself the Islamic Resistance Movement -Al-Noaman Brigades released a tape showing a bearded man, purported to be the Turkish truck driver, sitting in front of a black banner bearing the group's name in gold Arabic characters.
The militants threatened to behead the Turk unless his employers and their Kuwaiti contractor ended operations in Iraq. The videotape was aired on Al-Arabiya television on Saturday.
Last month, Murat Yuce, a Turk working for a company that provided laundry services, was shot three times in the head in Iraq by Al Qaeda linked militants loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant held responsible for a series of bombings, kidnappings and other attacks in Iraq.
In a separate kidnapping case earlier this week, a tape showing three Turkish hostages being killed was sent to Al-Jazeera TV from the Tawhid and Jihad militant group, which is also linked to al-Zarqawi.
Militants waging a violent 16-month insurgency in Iraq have increasingly turned to kidnapping foreigners in an effort to drive out coalition forces and contractors.
At least seven Turkish companies have announced their withdrawal from Iraq to secure the release of kidnapped staff and a Turkish truckers association has ceased transporting goods to the U.S. military in Iraq.