Sunni militants have kidnapped at least 46 Indian nurses from a hospital in the ISIL-controlled town of Tikrit, Iraq, and have moved them to an undisclosed location against their will.
The nurses have been holed up for more than a week in Tikrit, but were being taken Thursday to a new area under the extremist group’s control, said Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin, The Associated Press reported.
He said the nurses “did not go on their own free will,” but denied reports that there was a bomb blast as the nurses left Tikrit. He said a few nurses received minor injuries when some glass broke as they were leaving, AP reported.
He described the situation as one of “grave difficulty” because the area is not accessible to humanitarian organizations.
Mr. Akbaruddin also said 39 Indian construction workers abducted two weeks ago near ISIL-controlled Mosul were still being held, but were safe and unharmed, AP reported.
A concerned Kerala Chief Minister
Oommen Chandy, chief executive of the south Indian state of Kerala, met Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday to discuss moves to rescue the stranded nurses.
“I have no idea where the nurses are right now exactly. They came out of the hospital and left the place in a bus,” Mr. Chandy told reporters, New Delhi Television reported.