Assyrian Christian cleric freed in Turkey


ISTANBUL: November 30, 2007. A Christian cleric who was abducted earlier this week in southeast Turkey was freed Friday, a friend and an official said

Assyrian cleric Daniel Savci was rescued by security forces in the province of Batman two days after he was abducted in nearby Mardin province, Gabriel Akkurt, a fellow cleric, told The Associated Press. Aziz Mercan, the deputy governor of Batman, gave a slightly different account. He said security forces were closely following the abductors "through technological means," when the kidnappers left the clergyman and ran away, "probably out of fear." Mercan did not specify kind of technological means were used by security forces or whether the kidnappers` whereabouts were known. The kidnappers had called Akkurt after abducting Savci and demanded $445,000 in ransom. The Dogan news agency showed video of Savci hugging one of the Turkish soldiers afterward. "May our state, country and army be blessed," Savci said in the video. "We are happy." Akkurt said he did not know the details of the operation or whether any ransom was paid. Assyrians are a religious minority in Turkey, which is predominantly Muslim but secular.

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