Militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have demanded $50,000 in ransom payments for each of the seized 28 trucks, in order to release the 31 abducted Turkish truck drivers who are still being held, according to one of the hostages.
Mehmet Kızıl, an official from the company operating the trucks, said he had been able to talk on the phone with one of the kidnapped drivers, who said it was the new governor appointed by the jihadist group who demanded the ransom. “They want $50,000 for each truck. This is the last thing the soldiers told us,” the driver reportedly told Kızıl.
Along with the truck drivers, 49 staff members of Turkey’s Mosul consulate were also kidnapped by the militants on June 11, after ISIL seized the Iraqi city.
Officials initially denied any suggestion of ransoms being demanded, but Kızıl also claimed that the ISIL militants had asked for $10 million from the company as soon as they seized the truck drivers.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on June 15 that the militants had not demanded ransoms for the 80 abducted Turkish citizens, but added that “intense negotiations” were made.
Turkish media watchdog RTÜK has issued a broadcast and publishing ban on stories about the hostage crisis in Iraq, leading to a sharp decrease in the number of reports on the issue. Only an inter-ministerial crisis desk set up by the government and coordinated by Deputy Foreign Minister Naci Koru is entitled to give details about the latest situation on the issue.
The crisis desk said in a statement on June 30 that efforts for the release of the abducted Turkish citizens “are being pursued with sensitivity.”