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Location of abducted Indians in Iraq identified – Foreign Ministry of India

Rescue Efforts Heightened with arrival of Suresh Reddy

By TN Ashok / Diplomatic Editor

New Delhi, June 19: Iraqi authorities have successfully identified the location where 40 construction workers of Indian origin were being held by Islamic militants and they have shared with Indian foreign office officials the latest update on the situation.

A Ministry of External Affairs spokesman told newsmen today that official authorities in Iraq in addition to the humanitarian organisation Red Crescent had reconfirmed that 40 construction workers from India had been abducted and traced the whereabouts of where they were being held by militants.

“Since there is no safety in captivity and due to the highly sensitive nature of the operations of both Indian embassy officials and the Iraqi authorities it was not possible to disclose the location of the abducted Indians at this stage ”, the spokesman said adding that with the arrival of Indian diplomat Suresh Reddy in Baghdad rescue and other efforts aimed at securing the safety of Indian residents in conflict ridden Iraq had been heightened.

The crisis management team in New Delhi met today with the External Affairs Minister Ms Sushma Swaraj chairing the meeting which studied in depth the situation in Baghdad and the need for further preparedness to deal with the ongoing crisis. Anil Wadhwa, Secretary (East) of the External Affairs Ministry is in continuous touch with officials of the Indian embassy and Iraqi government officials on the situation there. Efforts are on to identify those residents in Baghdad or elsewhere in the west Asian nation who are desirous of returning to the country.

The External Affairs Minister was talking to both the Chief Ministers of Punjab and Kerala as also the Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab on how best to secure the release of the abducted Indians. Both the chief ministers had been flooded with queries from anxious relatives on the safety of their kith and kin. It is believed that a large number of the Indians by Islamic militants in Mosul were from Punjab. The large number of Indians stranded in Tikrit, a district overrun by the militants, were from Kerala and were working in hospitals there as nurses.

The MEA alone has received more than 130 calls from anxious relatives of Indians stranded in Iraq.

Government of India will spare no effort to ensure the safety and security of Indian nationals in Iraq Including their safe repatriation to the country. Documentation is no issue at all for those willing to return to the country and embassy officials are working double time to help Indian nationals, the spokesman said adding that coordinates of the Indian embassy officials dealing with this matter were up on the website detailing phone numbers and email ids.

The spokesman declined to comment on reports that an Indian TV station had received frantic messages from some of the affected workers in Iraq working for a Turkish firm that it was not willing to evacuate the workers to India but was only willing to transport them to Basra, 600 kms from their work site, on payment of US $ 1400 each. But this message has been passed onto the officials in the government for appropriate action.

International media reports quoting Turkish foreign ministry said its embassy in Baghdad is looking into reports that Isis abducted 60 foreign construction workers including some 15 Turks near Kirkuk.  The Turkish government last week said that Isis had taken more than 70 Turkish nationals captive in Mosul, after the militants overran the city.


These included 49 diplomats working at the Turkish embassy and their families, and 31 truck drivers. Turkey has since evacuated the 18 staff members of its consulate in Basra.


India has dispatched an envoy to Iraq to help evacuate its nationals after reports that 40 Indian construction workers are being held in Mosul. Meanwhile, in a Tikrit hospital, 46 Indian nurses are said to be “safe”. This comes amid reports that more than 1,000 Chinese construction workers were “stranded in northern Iraq.


The reports said that fearing reprisals against foreign workers, some of the big time oil companies began evacuating their foreign staff from Iraq. Exxon Mobil has carried out a “major evacuation” and BP had evacuated 20% of its staff.  The German government confirmed 50 Siemens employees had been evacuated. iraq crisis photos courtesy AP