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Indian construction workers kidnapped in Iraq

New Delhi - Forty Indian construction workers have been kidnapped from the Iraqi city of Mosul, which is in the hands of Sunni militants, but no ransom demands have been received and their whereabouts are unknown, the Indian foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said the government did not know who was behind the kidnapping. Most of the hostages are from the north Indian state of Punjab and were working for a Baghdad-based company called Tariq Noor Al Huda.

A member of Iraqi security forces stands guard in front of volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants from the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Baghdad. Picture: Ahmed Saad. Credit: REUTERS

“The Red Crescent confirmed to us that as per their information, 40 Indian construction workers have been kidnapped,” Akbaruddin told a media briefing.

Akbaruddin said about 100 Indian workers were living in areas overrun by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and India was in contact with many of them, including 46 nurses. It has sent a senior envoy to Baghdad to support repatriation efforts.

The nurses are stranded in Tikrit, which is under militant control, with many of them holed up in the hospital where they work. Nurses who spoke to the Indian media said they had been treating people wounded in fierce street fighting.

The Red Crescent, a humanitarian group, has contacted the nurses and is providing assistance, Akbaruddin said.

ISIL fighters, who aim to establish a Muslim caliphate across the Iraqi-Syrian frontier, launched their revolt by seizing Mosul, and have swept through the Tigris valley towards Baghdad.

Scores were killed on Tuesday in a battle for a provincial capital close to Baghdad, and fighting shut Iraq's biggest refinery at Baiji, hitting fuel and power supplies. - Reuters

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