NEW DELHI: The 46 Indian nurses stranded in Iraq’s Tikrit continue to be in a precarious situation, with gunfire and explosions reported from the area where they are holed up.
“There has been bombing and firing in the vicinity of their (nurses’) building. They have taken refuge in the basement. They are in an extremely delicate situation. We have informed the Iraqi agencies of their location and we remain hopeful that despite these difficulties, we will be able to extricate them,” said Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin. This week, the Iraqi army led a massive yet unsuccessful attempt to take Tikrit, which was captured by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants earlier this month.
Akbaruddin added the nurses were “safe and unharmed” and were in touch with the Indian mission. The embassy had earlier sent funds to the nurses, as they were running out of money.
He further said there was no development in the case of the Indian construction workers taken hostage from Mosul.
In the two days to come, 230 Indians will be flying out from four cities in southern Iraq. More than 600 Indians are expected to be sent out this week. While 94 left on commercial flights on Monday, another 136 were scheduled to leave on Tuesday.
The ministry spokesperson said that while 1,000 Indians had so far expressed desire to leave Iraq, another 1,000 had said they would like to stay put in the country. Meanwhile, the Israel embassy in its statement on the three abducted teenagers found dead in Hebron, mentioned the captive Indians. “As the Israeli people have experienced the feeling of worry and concern for the well-being of our citizens, the state of Israel hopes those Indians will reunite with their families in the near future and wishes for their safe return to their families,” said a statement issued by the embassy here.