Jihadists kidnap Turkish consul, 24 staff in Iraq: police

KIRKUK (AFP) - Jihadists seized the Turkish consulate in the Iraqi city of Mosul on Wednesday and kidnapped the head of the diplomatic mission and 24 staff members, a police colonel said.

"Isil members managed to kidnap the Turkish consul and 24 of his guards and assistants," the officer said, referring to powerful jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The colonel said he had spoken with one of the kidnappers, who said those held "are safe with us," and will be moved to a "safer place".

The kidnappings came a day after the Mosul consulate said Isil fighters had seized 28 Turkish truck drivers.

In a spectacular blow to the Shiite-led government, jihadists spearheaded by Isil on Tuesday seized Mosul, its surrounding region of Nineveh and areas of Kirkuk and Salaheddin province.

The takeover of Mosul prompted the United States to voice deep concern about the "extremely serious" situation and warn that ISIL poses "a threat to the entire region".

Isil is the most powerful militant group in Iraq, and a major force in the rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkish forces have targeted Isil in Syria, and warned it against attacking a shrine in the northern province of Aleppo that is under Turkish jurisdiction.

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