Himachal Pradesh has taken up the issue of the safe return of the youths from the state abducted or stranded in Iraq, chief minister Virbhadra Singh said here on Saturday.
"We are in regular touch with the union government which is exploring all the avenues to get the hostages released," Singh said in a statement.
The chief minister said the state was trying to ascertain the exact number of Himachalis held hostage in the strife-torn country.
"As per media reports, there are around 23 Himachalis in various cities of Iraq," he added.
Three families from Kangra district claim that their family members are among the 40 Indians abducted in Iraq.
The men have not established contact with their families in India since last Sunday. The missing men - Aman Kumar, Inderjeet Singh and Sandeep Kumar - were working with Iraqi construction company Tariq-N-Hul.