Iraq Militants Seize 48, Including Turkish Consul, Children

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Iraq Militants Seize 48, Including Turkish Consul, Children
Ankara:  Militants stormed the Turkish consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Wednesday and kidnapped 48 people including the head of the mission, a Turkish government official said.

"Forty-eight Turks including the consul, staff members, guards and three children were abducted," the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official said the diplomats were taken from the consulate building to the headquarters of the powerful jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul.

"All are doing well," the official said, without elaborating.

The kidnappings come as jihadists spearheaded by ISIL have overrun swathes of Iraq including Mosul, in a spectacular blow to the Shiite-led government.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan held an emergency meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay and spy chief Hakan Fidan to discuss security measures and how to secure the release of those kidnapped.

"All options are on the table including the evacuation of the consulate in Mosul," the official said.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu cut short a trip in New York, cancelling several meetings at the United Nations to head back to Turkey, a ministry official said.

The Mosul consulate said Tuesday that militants from ISIL, a radical jihadist group operating in Iraq and Syria, had seized 28 Turkish truck drivers.

The group has also threatened to attack a historic shrine which is under Turkish jurisdiction in Syria, the Tomb of Suleyman Shah in the northern city of Aleppo.

Turkey is a staunch supporter of the three-year-old uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a onetime ally.

It has long championed Syria's fragmented opposition but the growing influence of Al-Qaeda affiliated groups in the war-torn country has left it open to accusations that it is backing radical Islamists.

But the government has dismissed concerns, saying that it is only supporting the Syrian opposition.

This month, Turkey added Al-Qaeda's branch in Syria - the Al-Nusra Front - to a list of terrorist organisations, in a sign of its growing concern over the rise of radicals across the border.

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