46 Indian nurses kidnapped from Tikrit hospital

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 July, 2014, 1:10am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 July, 2014, 1:10am

Nearly 50 Indian nurses from the southern state of Kerala have been taken against their will from a hospital in the militant-controlled city of Tikrit in Iraq.

The nurses were forced to board buses, Foreign Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said yesterday. He declined to say who had ordered them aboard or where they were headed.

Asked if the nurses had been kidnapped, Akbaruddin said: "In zones of conflict there is no free will. This is a situation where lives are at stake."

The 46 nurses had been holed up for more than a week in Tikrit, where militants from the group the Islamic State (IS) have taken over.

Tikrit, the birthplace of former president Saddam Hussein, has been the site of fierce fighting this week as Iraqi troops battle the IS for control of the city.

Akbaruddin also said 40 Indian construction workers abducted two weeks ago near Mosul were still being held, but were safe and unharmed.

Meanwhile, Islamic State militants freed 32 Turkish truck drivers held hostage for three weeks, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said.

He said they were now on their way back to Turkey through northern Iraq but a separate group of almost 50 kidnapped Turks remained in captivity.

"The 32 drivers were delivered to our consul," Davutoglu said in Ankara. They were now on their way to the city of Arbil in the relatively stable Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.

Militants storming the Turkish consulate in Mosul had kidnapped 49 other Turks, including the consul, staff, guards and three children. But there was no news of their whereabouts.

The official said negotiations were continuing with different groups in Iraq, including tribes, for the release of Turkey's abducted citizens.