World Bulletin/News Desk
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said 49 staff and family members abducted from the Turkish consulate in Iraq are safe, as efforts continue to ensure their release.
Davutoglu said on Thursday a "delicate process" was ongoing to free the Turkish nationals, who were abducted by militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant after they captured the northern city and raided the consulate building the day before.
He said: "We can say that they are in a safe condition."
Domestic political divides should not cloud the fact that the most important thing was to ensure the safe return of the hostages, Davutoglu added.
"This is more than a political issue, both in terms of human safety and national dignity,” he said.
Security warning issued
He refused to disclose any information on the whereabouts of the hostages.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has issued a security warning for Turkish citizens in Iraq.
"Turkish citizens living or visiting Iraq should leave the country as soon as possible ... for their safety," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement.
Earlier, an Iraqi official said the abductees were being held in the office of Mosul's governor.
The Secretary General of Ministry for Peshmerga (Kurdish forces), Jabbar Yawar said Iraqi officials were "hopeful" the Turks would be released, adding: "We are doing everything we can."
He said that clashes between the Iraqi Army and ISIL militants were continuing.
Yawar added: "The Iraqi army is so powerless that the militants are already at the gate of Baghdad.
"ISIL has become a serious threat for Baghdad and the whole region."
Asked whether it was possible that Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi Army could fight together against ISIL, Yawar said there was no Iraqi Army left to fight with.
"As far as we can see, the Iraqi Army has completely pulled out of Mosul, Kirkuk, Salahaddin and Samarra," he said.
Yawar also said in a statement published on the KRG's official website on Thursday: "The Kurdistan Region remains open for all people fleeing their homes because of the threat of terror."
He said the Peshmerga would help in any way it could.
The 49 Turkish consulate staff and family members were abducted by ISIL on Wednesday, a day after the militants also took control of Iraq's second-largest city and seized 31 Turkish truck drivers who were transporting fuel to a thermal power plant.
More than 300,000 residents have fled Mosul, which has been rocked by clashes between security forces and militants since last week.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said on Tuesday that Iraq had been placed on "maximum alert" and called on Iraq's parliament to declare a national state of emergency.
Last Mod: 12 Haziran 2014, 22:55