ISTANBUL, Turkey – A Turkish welder who was kidnapped in Iraq and threatened with death if his company did not withdraw from the neighboring nation, has escaped his captors, his family said Friday.
Abdurrahman Yildirim (search), 21, was who reportedly abducted last week, called his family Wednesday to say he escaped and was free, his uncle Mehmet Balli said by telephone from the southern town of Osmaniye.
Yildirim's mother, Fatma, told the Anatolia news agency that her son fled when one of his captors left the door open where he was being held. He then went to a market and contacted Iraqi police. He was later brought to U.S. authorities, Fatma Yildirim was quoted as saying.
Turkish news reports have said kidnappers threatened to kill Yildirim if his company, Kulak Construction Company (search), did withdraw from Iraq. A Foreign Ministry official confirmed that Yildirim had been kidnapped and was threatened with death, but could not immediately confirm that he was free.
More than 150 foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq, and at least 32 have been killed, including six Turks. Some kidnappers seek ransom money, but others have political objectives such as the withdrawal of foreign companies or troops serving in the U.S.-led multinational force.
Yildirim told his family that he was taken to an Iraqi hospital after he escaped.
"His condition is good, but the boy is in shock," Balli said. He had no further details on Yildirim's release.
Officials from Yildirim's company were not immediately available for comment.
Last week, a video that appeared on an Islamic Web site showed militants in Iraq beheading a man identified as a kidnapped Turkish driver. He was the sixth Turk slain by militants who oppose the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. Most of the victims have worked for or alongside coalition interests in the country.