Militants seized 48 Turkish nationals from Turkey’s consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul yesterday, including the consul-general, three children and several members of Turkey’s special forces, a source in Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said.
The group was taken from the consulate to a militant base. Turkish authorities have contacted militant groups and confirmed that all are unharmed, the source said.
Sunni insurgents from al-Qaeda splinter group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seized Mosul on Tuesday in a show of strength against Iraq’s Shiite-led government.
The seizure of the consulate means at least 76 Turks are now being held by militants in Mosul. It comes a day after 28 Turkish truck drivers were abducted by ISIL militants while they were delivering diesel to a power plant in the city.
Erdogan held an emergency meeting with the Undersecretary of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency and Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay to discuss the developments, officials said.
Following the capture of Mosul, militants yesterday took control of the city of Tikrit and freed hundreds of prisoners, police said, making it the second provincial capital to fall in two days.
“All of Tikrit is in the hands of the militants,” a police colonel said of the Salaheddin provincial capital, which is about halfway between Baghdad and Mosul.
A police brigadier-general said the militants attacked from the north, west and south of Tikrit, and that they were from powerful the ISIL, while a police major said the militants had freed about 300 inmates from a prison in the city.
ISIL is spearheading a spectacular offensive that began late on Monday and has since overrun all of Nineveh Province and its capital, Mosul, as well as parts of Kirkuk to its southeast and Salaheddin to its south.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki asked parliament to declare a state of emergency and announced that citizens would be armed to fight the militants.
The International Organisation for Migration said that about half a million Iraqis had fled their homes in Mosul following the city’s fall, fearing increased violence.
The ISIL’s takeover “displaced over 500,000 people in and around the city,” it said.