Turkey received prior warning of the attack on its consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Friday, defending Ankara’s decision not to evacuate.
Arinc told reporters that the Turkish government had made contact by telephone with the hostages and they had “not been exposed to any bad treatment.”
“I hope we will get good news today, but the situation is still fragile,” he said.
On Wednesday, militants from the jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) abducted 49 people from the Turkish consulate in Mosul, including diplomats, guards and children.
“We were more or less informed that ISIL was going to target our consulate while advancing (through Iraq),” Arinc said.
Turkey had decided not to evacuate the building as they judged the security situation outside was worse.
Ankara said Thursday it was holding talks to secure the release of its abducted citizens, but Arinc denied claims that ISIL was among the parties it was negotiating with.
ISIL also seized 31 Turkish truck drivers from a power station in the city on Tuesday, drawing a threat of harsh reprisals from Ankara if any were harmed.
The kidnappings came amid growing concern in Ankara over the rise of radical Islamist groups across the border in Syria.
Turkey, which backs the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, has repeatedly denied allegations that it is shipping arms to rebels or backing Al-Qaeda linked groups in Syria.
“Turkey has never shipped arms to these groups. We have no links to them,” Arinc said.