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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ

Turk and Egyptian Freed by Captors

June 18, 2004|From Associated Press

BAGHDAD — Two truck drivers -- a Turk and an Egyptian -- who were kidnapped this month while hauling supplies for the U.S.-led coalition were released to an Iraqi journalist Thursday.

Bulent Yanik of Turkey and Victor Tawfiq Gerges of Egypt were taken hostage near the city of Fallouja while transporting supplies from Kuwait.

The two were handed over Thursday to the head of a Turkish news agency near Fallouja, 35 miles west of Baghdad, the capital.

The journalist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he took the drivers to Turkish diplomats in Baghdad.

The Turkish Embassy declined to comment.

Shortly after the two were released, an ecstatic Gerges telephoned his family in Abu Shousha, a village 290 miles south of Cairo.

His wife, Amal Gadel-Rab Naguib, said, "This is the happiest moment in my life."

She said Gerges was at the Egyptian Embassy in Baghdad and was in good health.

Sureyya Yanik said in Turkey that her husband had telephoned after his release and assured her he was well.

"We're all happy, but we're still waiting. I'll be happier when he's here," she said.

Last week, the kidnappers threatened to kill the drivers, but later they said they had postponed the decision.

It was unclear whether ransom was paid for the men's release.

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