40 Indians missing in violence-hit Mosul in Iraq

According to reports, the missing persons are construction workers

New Delhi: 40 Indians were "uncontactable" in Mosul town of strife-torn Iraq, government has said even as it decided to send former envoy to Iraq Suresh Reddy to strengthen the Indian Mission in Baghdad.

"There are 40 Indians in Mosul whom we have not been able to contact. Despite our best efforts at this stage... they remain uncontactable," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said on Wednesday.

Asked about reports claiming that they were abducted, he said, "We cannot confirm it. However, they are uncontactable." He, at the same time, said there were no reports of any Indian being targeted or involved in any violent incident in Iraq.

"The violence there is not targeted at Indian nationals.

Also read: Sushma Swaraj assures help to kin of Punjab boys stranded in Iraq

We are just caught in the cross-fire. At this stage we have no reports, no confirmation of any Indian national being involved in any violent accident," the Spokesperson said.

In response to a request by the Indian embassy, International Red Crescent had contacted 46 Indian nurses in Tikrit and provided them assistance, he said. Insurgent outfits have seized the two cities of Mosul and Tikrit.

"There are 40 Indians in Mosul who we have not been able to contact," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told PTI.

The Spokesperson said Reddy is being sent to Baghdad to strengthen the Indian Mission there which is trying to help the Indians in violence-affected areas.

"And we have decided to strengthen the embassy by sending a seasoned Indian diplomat Mr Suresh Reddy who will travel today to Baghdad to assist the embassy in its efforts," Akbaruddin said.

Amid mounting concerns over safety of Indians stranded in Iraq, India has set up a control room here to provide information to their families.

Following a direction from External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, a "crisis management meeting" yesterday reviewed all aspects of the assistance that can be provided to the Indian nationals stuck in the country.

Read Also: Indian mission in touch with nurses trapped in Iraq: Foreign Ministry

Meanwhile, Indian nurses stranded in northern Iraq have been living like prisoners at a state-run hospital in Tikrit after being abandoned by their employers as well as the military, reports said Tuesday.

As many as 46 nurses from the southern Indian state of Kerala are in Iraq waiting for the turmoil to subside.

"We are afraid because we have no security here," Marina Jose, one of the nurses, told NDTV by phone from the northwestern city, which was seized by Sunni insurgents recently.

"All the military, police, everybody escaped from here. Only we are here. We are literally prisoners within the hospital premises. There are no Iraqi employees here," she said.

Since the insurgents launched their lightning assault on June 9, they have captured Mosul, a city of two million people, and a big chunk of mainly Sunni Arab territory stretching south towards the capital.

Read: Iraq crisis: Militants battle for control of strategic town

The offensive has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and sent jitters through world oil markets as the militants have advanced ever nearer Baghdad leaving the Shiite-led government in disarray.

The Indian foreign ministry said the situation in Iraq was receiving "high priority" but ruled out any immediate emergency evacuation of its nationals.

Read Also: Safety of Indians in Iraq: Government monitoring situation on regular basis

( Source : dc/ap/ani )
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