* Turkey says 'negative propaganda' being spread against it
* Warns Turks to leave eight more provinces
* Local agency says 60 foreigners seized near Kirkuk
* Jihadi militants already holding 80 Turkish citizens
(Adds foreign ministry, President Gul, opposition comment)
By Tulay Karadeniz and Asli Kandemir
ANKARA, June 18 Turkey extended a warning to its
citizens in Iraq to leave all but the Kurdish-run north on
Wednesday, citing a potential battle for Baghdad and saying
"negative propaganda" was being spread against it in the
Shi'ite-dominated south of the country.
The foreign ministry urged Turks to leave eight more
provinces south of Baghdad, meaning its advisory now covers all
of the country apart from the autonomous, relatively peaceful
Kurdish region partly bordering Turkey.
"Iraq's security crisis continues to deepen and has reached
a critical point in which civilians are being targeted," the
ministry said in a statement.
It said Iraqi Shi'ite militias were being deployed to
Baghdad to defend against attacks by Sunni Islamist insurgents
who overran much of northern Iraq last week, and said "false
accusations" were being made against Turkey and other foreign
countries in Shi'ite areas.
Turkey has long had a tense relationship with Iraqi Prime
Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shi'ite-led government, which some
Turkish politicians say is pursuing a sectarian agenda.
"Turks and Turkey are seen as Sunnis in the southern regions
(of Iraq). There is this perception that if you are Sunni, you
are supporting the insurgents," a foreign ministry official
Turkey's Dogan news agency said militants from the Islamic
State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) had seized 60 people,
including 15 Turks, who were building a hospital near the town
of Dour in Salahuddin province, close to the oil city of Kirkuk.
Istanbul-based Dogan said those abducted included workers
from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Turkmenistan, quoting a
worker who was freed along with other Sunni Muslims let go by
the Sunni militants.
"The embassy in Baghdad is investigating the reports," a
Turkish foreign ministry official said, giving no more details
and declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.
Separately, India said it had lost contact with 40 Indian
builders who may have been kidnapped in Mosul after Iraq's
second city was overrun by ISIL 10 days ago.
"IMPOSSIBLE TO KNOW WHO'S WHO"
The reported abductions came a week after 80 Turkish
nationals were seized by ISIL in the northern Iraqi city, 49 of
them snatched from the Turkish consulate, including special
forces soldiers, diplomats and children.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has said those taken from the
consulate are unharmed and efforts are under way to secure their
release, but the attack drew criticism of his government for
failing to foresee the danger and evacuate the mission sooner.
The lightning offensive by ISIL and other Sunni militants
threatens to fragment Iraq and leaves Turkey facing a widening
Islamist insurgency in two of its southern neighbours, with ISIL
also making territorial gains in Syria near the Turkish border.
"The developments in our region, in Iraq and Syria, are
extremely saddening for all of us," Turkish President Abdullah
Gul said during a visit to the northwestern town of Kirklareli,
saying radical groups were exploiting a political vacuum.
"We made repeated warnings, as Turkey, to avoid such a
scenario ... But unfortunately now there is chaos, with various
groups fighting. It's impossible to know who's who any more and
our first priority is to protect Turkey and keep it out of
Turkey has been one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's
fiercest critics, allowing the Syrian political opposition to
organise on its soil and maintaining an open border policy
which, initially at least, allowed fighters and supplies to
cross into insurgent territory.
That policy has left it open to accusations that it did too
little to prevent foreign fighters swelling the ranks of radical
groups including al Qaeda splinter group ISIL, a charge the
government denies. It has since tightened border controls.
Sezgin Tanrikulu, a leading member of the main opposition
Republican People's Party, called on Wednesday for a
parliamentary investigation into the suspected activities of al
Qaeda and its affiliates in Turkey.
"I request that a parliamentary investigation be opened into
determining whether effective counter-terrorism methods are
being used against the terrorist organisations' activities
within Turkish borders," he said in a petition to parliament.
Erdogan, eager to avoid negative publicity ahead of an
August presidential election in which he is expected to stand,
has accused the opposition of trying to make political capital
out of the events in Iraq and Syria.
Turkey's broadcasting authority this week imposed a ban on
media reporting about the diplomats and soldiers seized in Mosul
on the grounds of protecting their safety.
The foreign ministry said on Saturday the group had had no
option but to surrender after hundreds of heavily armed
militants surrounded their consulate building.
As a precaution, Turkey evacuated its consulate in the
southern Iraqi city of Basra on Tuesday - in what Turkish
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu described as a response to an
increased security risk.
But Turkish officials have said the embassy in the Iraqi
capital Baghdad will remain open for the time being.
(Additional reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley in Istanbul; Writing
by Nick Tattersall)