AsiaIndiaIraqSecuritySouthern Asia

‘Bombing near building but Indian nurses safe in Iraq’

New Delhi, July 1 There has been bombing and firing in the vicinity of the building in Iraq’s Tikrit town which houses 46 Indian nurses and they had taken refuge in basement, the government said Tuesday and expressed hope that they will be evacuated safely.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said here that it was a “delicate situation” and Iraqi authorities had been informed about the location of nurses.

He said that despite the difficulties, the government hoped to extricate the nurses safely.

“The nurses remain safe, unharmed…. Nurses are in touch with the (Indian) mission. The mission is advising them,” he said.

Akbaruddin also called upon the media to be restrained in its coverage, saying that the nurses were in the conflict zone and trying to contact them on phone to give hour by hour information was being found “intrusive” by authorities in Iraq.

He said nothing should be done that can jeopardise lives.

Referring to Indians in non-conflict areas in Iraq, he said that mobile teams were active and 233 Indians had been booked to fly out Tuesday.

He said around 1,000 of those Indian nationals who had been contacted had expressed their desire to return and almost a similar number were keen to stay back.

Asked about 39 Indians in captivity in Mosul, Akbaruddin said that they were unharmed.

He said Nepal had requested India to facilitate return of its nationals from Iraq since it does not have an embassy in the Gulf country.

“We would be assisting Nepal based on the advice of Nepal government,” he said.

Suspected militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), have overrun Mosul and Tikrit, the hometown of late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain.

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