In Diyala gunmen release three hostages for a $150,000 ransom

Kirkuk, 2020 – the Kaka’i village Walad in Daquq is desolate due to attacks by gunmen – Photo: KirkukNow

Layla Ahmad - Qaratapa

After about a month, unknown militants released three young men they had kidnapped in exchange for a ransom of $150,000.

Adnan Isa Bayatu, the father of one of the released hostages, told KirkukNow: “A month ago, a group of gunmen kidnapped my son and two others at an unfinished house in our village (Safsafa).”

According to the families of the hostages, after some days of the kidnapping, the gunmen called the families of the hostages and demanded a ransom for their release.

On Sunday, the gunmen let one of the hostages go, and three days later, on Wednesday, they released the other two.

“It feels like my son is reborn; we are very happy. His wife and three children were very worried,” Adnan said.

The three men were kidnapped in late August at the Safsafa village in Diyala’s Qaratapa subdistrict, which lies within the disputed areas.

Adnan thinks that the gunmen belong to ISIS. He mentioned that they have paid a ransom, but didn’t want to say the amount.

The Safsafa village is populated by Kurds, except for Adnan’s family, who are ethnic Arabs.

An intelligence source (who wished to remain unnamed because they aren’t authorised to speak to the press) told KirkukNow: “The three hostages were released in exchange for money; $50,000 was paid for each.”

The source also thinks that the kidnappers belong to ISIS.

Security has deteriorated in the rural areas of Salahudin and Diyala provinces. Attacks against villagers and security personnel take place frequently. This has forced some villagers to flee the area; a number of villages are completely empty now.

Several villagers have been taken hostage for ransom this year.

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