The Indian nurses stranded in Tikrit, the town seized by the fighters from al Qaeda-influenced Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) last week, are completely safe, the Indian embassy in Iraq said on Monday.
“International Red Crescent Society volunteers visited the 46 Indian nurses who were stranded in a hospital they were working in since last week,” India’s ambassador A Ajay Kumar told IANS from Baghdad on Monday. In all, there are 46 Indian nurses stranded in Tikrit —most of them from Kerala — and 41 construction workers are in Mosul, the embassy said.
“Till now, they are completely safe,” Kumar assured. The nurses sought assistance from the Indian embassy Friday as they were caught in the conflict zone after armed militants seized Tikrit city, 140 km northwest of Baghdad, and took control of the abandoned posts of Iraqi security forces. The nurses were sending SOS to their friends and families over the last week. They could not be moved to any other places as all the areas around the town were highly unsafe, an official said.
“The volunteers found them completely safe and working in the hospital,” Ambassador Kumar added.
Meanwhile, the government on Monday declared it “firmly stands by” the government and people of Iraq against “international terrorism”.“The safety and security of the Indian nationals currently in Iraq remains a matter of serious concern,” a statement by the external affairs ministry said.
Over the weekend, New Delhi had asked Indians in Iraq to consider leaving the country “if it is safe to do so”. On Monday, the government said it was “deeply concerned” with the deteriorating situation due to the recent attacks and taking over of some cities, including Mosul and Tikrit, by terrorist outfits since June 8.