Indian nurses freed by Iraqi militants, head home with 70 others

9:01 PM, Friday, July 4th, 2014

Indian nursesNew Delhi : The 46 Indian nurses, held captive by ISIS militants in Mosul in Iraq, have been freed, the government said on Friday.

“Hope has triumphed… The process is underway to get them back to India,” said the Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Syed Akbaruddin.

“We can confirm that the Indian nurses who were moved against their will are now free. The nurses are on their way to Erbil (a town in Iraq). Our Mission members are in Erbil and in contact with the Indian nurses,” he said.

He said “enormous amount of effort both within and outside Iraq were put in” to secure the release of the nurses, who were earlier stranded in the city of Tikrit.

Akabruddin said however said the government would “redouble” its efforts to secure release of those still in captivity of ISIS.

He said the nurses will move to Erbil by Friday night and board an Air India plane.

“The plane has left Delhi to pick them and 70 others up and bring them back. Plane will fist land in Kochi and drop the nurses and others there? and then come to Delhi.”

He said a joint secretary-level officer is on board that plane to bring the Indians home.

He said he would repeat the plea made last time. “Have hope and faith that government is doing all it can to retrieve the Indians (from Iraq),” he said.

Asked how the release was secured, Akbaruddin said “conventional tools of diplomacy do not exist in conflict zones”.

Akbaruddin said the nurses “are all unharmed and safe”.

“They have of course gone through a traumatic experience. We are making arrangements for their comfort and well being. ? Being with friends and families is best for them,” he said.
Akbaruddin said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj “extensively interacted” with? her counterparts in Gulf countries.

“This process did not start yesterday but has been underway for sometime. She is leading the diplomatic effort on,” he said.

But he refused to identify those the government worked with to evacuate the nurses.

“Anything we say may possibly impact other elements so I won’t say who we worked with and how we worked. We will not say how we are operating with whom and where. Efforts are underway (on the remaining Indians in captivity),” he said.


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