6:01 pm - Thursday November 5, 2015

40 Indians missing in Iraq, kidnapping feared

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Indian officials in Baghdad lost contact with about 40 Indian construction workers in Mosul, and fear many of them have been kidnapped, sources confirm. The group of workers, some from Punjab were working on a government construction project in Mosul, that was over-run by ISIS militants last week.

On Tuesday, the group had tried to move out of the city to travel towards Baghdad, when they were accosted by armed militia and taken to another unknown location. “It was a large group that was moving, and was bound to be noticed by the militia that is everywhere,” sources confirmed. MEA officials are trying to piece together their whereabouts based on the account of a few who were apparently able to escape, and witnessed the rest being taken away by unidentified gunmen.

The Hindu has learnt that India’s former ambassador to Iraq, Suresh Reddy, now posted to Indonesia, will be leaving on Wednesday night to assist with rescue efforts. Mr. Reddy has been chosen for his knowledge of the country as well as for his ability to navigate the Iraqi government for assistance.

While the MEA spokesman’s office refused to confirm the developments, sources say the government is extremely worried about the situation for them as well as for 46 nurses in Tikrit hospitals. They are counselling all Indian nationals to stay indoors and not move out of their compounds until they are able to secure their safe return.

Government sources confirmed to The Hindu that they are in touch with the contracting agents for the group from Mosul, who have also had no contact after the group was waylaid.

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