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Friday, July 4, 2014, 17:49

Indian nurses freed by Iraqi insurgents

By Agencies

 Indian nurses freed by Iraqi insurgents
An Indian Muslim holds a placard and shouts anti-terrorism slogans during a demonstration in New Delhi to protest against the violence in Iraq on June 27, 2014. (Photo / AFP)

NEW DELHI - The 46 Indian nurses taken away by Iraqi insurgents from a hospital in Tikrit to Mosul Thursday have been freed, said officials and local media reports Friday. 

The nurses are coming back to India aboard a special aircraft sent by Indian government to Erbil, northern Iraq, and will return to Kochi, state capital of Kerala in southern India Saturday morning, said Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.

All the nurses, who are from Kerala are safe and unharmed, said officials with Indian Ministry of External Affairs. The news of their release was also confirmed by the International Red Cross.

The nurses were taken Thursday from Tikrit to Mosul by Sunni insurgents.

A senior aide to Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who spoke to the nurses on Thursday, told Reuters that "militants" had forced the nurses to vacate the hospital and board two buses.

Tikrit, the birthplace of former President Saddam Hussein, has been the site of fierce fighting this week as Iraqi troops battle to regain control of the city from al Qaeda splinter group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Islamic State insurgents and other Sunni Muslim militant groups have seized towns and cities across Syria and Iraq in a lightning advance last month.

Two weeks ago, 40 construction workers were kidnapped in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, and all but one of them are still in captivity.

About 10,000 Indians work in Iraq, mostly in areas unaffected by the fighting, but scores of them have returned to India since ISIL began its offensive.


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