In what may hold out hope for the abducted Indian workers in Iraq, it has emerged that one of the men abducted from Mosul managed to break free and has gotten in touch with Indian officials.
Iraqi Red Crescent’s president Dr Yaseen Abbass confirmed to HT on Thursday that one of the 40 construction workers abducted by a heavily-armed militia has now been taken to safety. “He is safe and is currently in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil,” he said.
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The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has overrun wide swathes of Iraq in a crisis the United Nations has described as an ‘existential threat’ to the country.
The Indian managed to establish contact with the Indian embassy in Baghdad which, in turn, sought the help of the Red Crescent.
India has been banking on the Red Crescent, a humanitarian agency, to get ears on the ground. The Crescent is the agency that informed the embassy four days ago about the abduction of 40 Indian workers and continues to work through violence-torn Iraq, including the cities of Mosul and Tikrit that have fallen to ISIS.
Relatives hold up photographs of Indian workers, who have been kidnapped in Iraq, after their meeting with India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi. (Reuters Photo)
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Red Crescent sources also told HT that the organisation “has flown a special envoy from Baghdad to Erbil to meet with the worker who managed to escape”. He added that the worker was in contact with officials from the ministry of external affairs (MEA). When asked, a government official said: “We have no knowledge of this.’’
The MEA confirmed at a briefing in New Delhi that they knew the whereabouts of the Indians who were abducted in Iraq.
“We do have an understanding of the location (of the abducted workers) but since it is a developing situation, I will not be able to disclose further details," MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.
An official from Crescent also told HT that the agency got in touch with local community leaders in Mosul to help them track the kidnapped workers.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj sought to reassure harried families of the abducted workers who met her on Thursday. "We are doing our best to safely bring back all the Indians stranded in Iraq,” she said.
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