Forty Indians working for a Turkish construction company near Mosul, northern Iraq, have been kidnapped, India's Foreign Ministry said yesterday.
Spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said there had been no contact with the kidnappers, and no ransom demand. Over the past week, militants have overrun Mosul as they stormed towards the capital, Baghdad.
It was not immediately clear when the Indian workers were abducted. Akbaruddin said they had been working for the Tariq Noor al-Huda construction company in Iraq.
Relatives in the Punjabi city of Amritsar said they had received phone calls from some of the Indian workers on Sunday, five days after Mosul was captured. Gurprender Kaur said her brother called and told her the workers were alone, in trouble and needed help.
There were about 10,000 Indian citizens working and living in Iraq, but only about 100 were in violent, insecure areas, Akbaruddin said.
That included 46 Indian nurses working in a hospital in the Iraqi town of Tikrit, but Akbaruddin said humanitarian organisations had been in touch with them and they were all safe.
Indian TV station NDTV broadcast a recording of a phone call with one of the nurses in Tikrit on Tuesday.
"We are afraid. We have no security here," a woman identified as nurse Marina Jose said over a crackling phone connection. "All the military, police, everybody escaped from here. Only we are here."