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Family appeals to state to find beheaded driver's body

   
InternationalThe family of a Turkish driver beheaded by militants in Iraq for aiding U.S. forces have appealed to the state to recover the body of the murdered man.

The devastated family of Durmus Kumdereli, whose beheading by masked militants was shown on a videotape digitally dated Aug. 17, condemned with fury the killing, saying the perpetrators of the heinous act could in no way be believers of Islam.

Turkish Foreign Ministry officials were not available throughout yesterday to comment on whether there have been efforts to respond to the family's plea.

The videotape appeared Monday on the Web site of the al-Qaida-linked Tawhid and Jihad, a group led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi that has beheaded other foreign hostages. On the tape, Kumdereli, speaking in Turkish, says he was transporting goods to an American military base in Mosul as Arabic subtitles accompany his words. Afterwards, a black screen reading "the execution" appears, followed by warnings from masked, armed militants to foreign drivers, and then the grisly footage of the beheading.

Kumdereli, abducted on Aug. 14 outside the northern Iraqi city of Mosul after delivering water to a U.S. base in Baghdad, is one of the scores of Turkish nationals abducted in Iraq. Another Turkish driver, Mustafa Koksal, was taken hostage with him; four days later, the Turkish government said he had been rescued.

"Some Turkish nationals are heinously killed in Iraq," Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told a meeting of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Parliament yesterday.

He called on Iraq's influential elite, government officials and tribal and religious leaders to work to prevent attacks on Turks, saying Turkey's friendship should carry importance for the country.

"Turkey's importance should be important to them. Everybody should do their best to stop heinous, barbarous acts against Turks," he said.

In comments on Monday, Gul said, "Enraging Turkey and treating Turkey as an enemy is the worst thing Iraqis can do."

The foreign minister said Turkey had done its best to help Iraq restore stability and emphasized its assistance to Iraq was guided with no "secret agenda," something which he said should be appreciated by Iraqis.

However, he suggested no change in Turkey's commitment to supplying humanitarian aid to Iraq, and that such assistance would continue at an increased rate.

On Monday, Gul said it was impossible for Turkey to leave Iraq, noting thousands of trucks were transporting goods there everyday for the well-being of the Iraqi people.