Times of Oman
Dec 01, 2015 LAST UPDATED AT 06:28 AM GMT
40 Indians abducted in Iraq
June 18, 2014 | 12:00 AM
An image uploaded on June 14, 2014 on the pro-ISIL website Welayat Salahuddin allegedly shows militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) driving on a street at unknown location in the Salaheddin province. Photo - AFP/HO/WELAYAT SALAHUDDIN

New Delhi: India on Wednesday officially confirmed that 40 of its nationals, all working for a construction company in the violence-hit Iraqi city of Mosul, have been abducted by suspected militants.

"Forty Indian workers of the Tariq Noor Al Huda company in Mosul have been kidnapped. We have not received any calls of any nature asking for ransom or confirming that they (militants) have taken the workers in their custody," Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told the media in Delhi.

The whereabouts of the kidnapped workers, most of them hailing from northern India, are not known, the spokesperson said, adding, "We will not spare any efforts to help the Indians in Iraq. India is sending back its former envoy… to strengthen the embassies in Iraq."

Sources in the ministry say that the former Indian ambassador to Iraq, Suresh Reddy, is on his way to Baghdad where he will try and establish contact with the abducted Indian workers.

Reddy is said to have good contacts in Iraq, which he may use to secure the release of the kidnapped nationals, the sources say.

Earlier in the day, the ministry had said it was unable to contact the 40 nationals, but stopped short of saying that they had been abducted, following a report by a local newspaper which broke the story.

Meanwhile, the 46 nurses stranded in Tikrit have reportedly said that they are safe and confined to a dormitory within the hospital.

The Indian government had on Tuesday said that it was in touch with the 46 Indian nurses, mostly from Kerala, stranded in a hospital in Tikrit. "Out of the 46 nurses, many wanted to stay back. But even if there is one, we are willing to help them to the best of our capabilities," Akbaruddin had said.

Both Tikrit and Mosul are under the control of the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levante (ISIL/ISIS). 

India has already issued a travel advisory, asking its nationals to avoid travelling to Iraq, and those already there to leave by any commercial means available.

Experts say that it is now a real test for the Narendra Modi government to secure the release of the abducted Indian nationals as the whole country would be looking to see how the new regime deals with the problem on a foreign territory at a time when Iraq is tattering.

Satrajit Moitra - Our Correspondent

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