Hostages freed in Iraq

In a video aired on the Al-Jazeera network, the Tawhid wa al-Jihad group of suspected Al-Qaeda operative Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi said the two Turkish truckers were set free after their employers agreed to stop working in Iraq.

And an Iraqi mediator said he has secured the release of the four Jordanian truck drivers.

Tribal chief Sheikh Haj Ibrahim Jassam said they were freed unharmed after his men raided the Fallujah house where they were being held after their July 29 kidnapping.

“When we heard about this (kidnapping), which happened outside Fallujah on the highway, we discussed it with the advisory council for the mujahedeen and they handled it,” said Mr Jassem.

“They went to the house where the hostages were, inside Fallujah. The kidnappers ran away,” he said.

The two Turks are linked to two Turkish transport companies, Kahramanli and Oztur, which are operating jointly in Iraq transporting lockers and beds for the US army.

On Tuesday, the Turkish catering company Bilintur, which also provides services to the US army in Iraq, announced it was withdrawing its remaining workers from the country following the release of an Internet video apparently showing the execution of a Turkish man identified as Bilintur employee Murat Yuce.

The International Transporters’ Association, which groups most of Turkey’s 900 land transport companies, urged its members on Monday to immediately stop transporting cargo to US troops in Iraq.

Mr Jassem said the mujahedeen council believes the kidnapped men were innocent, and the kidnappers are criminals.

Militants in Iraq have taken hostage a number of foreigners, executing some, to force the US-led troops to quit the country.

Officials are still trying to secure the release of other hostages: three Indians, three Kenyans and an Egyptian, all truck drivers for Kuwait and Gulf Link Transport Co.

Meanwhile, four Iraqi national guardsmen died and six were wounded when a suicide car bomb exploded at a checkpoint near the eastern city of Baquba.

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