THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Forty-six Indian women nurses held by Sunni insurgents in Iraq are being freed and will be flown to India soon, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy announced Friday.
"The nurses are being taken to the Erbil airport," Chandy told IANS. "They are set to return to India."
Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan, is located about 60 km from Mosul, the insurgent stronghold which the nurses reached Thursday night after being forced out of their hospital in Tikrit.
The chief minister said over telephone from New Delhi where he is camping that the latest development took place due to the efforts of the Kerala and the central governments.
Chandy expressed confidence about the safe return of the nurses after meeting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj earlier in the morning.
"I am quite confident that we can bring back our nurses from Iraq," he told reporters earlier.
"A high-level crisis management group under the leadership of Sushma Swaraj has been formed. They will be doing everything to see that the nurses are brought back safely," he said.
Chandy requested the media not to go overboard while reporting the crisis involving the nurses, all of them from Kerala.
"I cannot divulge all the details," he added.
The 46 nurses were put in a bus from Tikrit Thursday afternoon in the company of armed militants and driven to Mosul, where they reached late at night.
On Friday morning, they were given food and allowed to speak over the telephone to their families in Kerala.