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40 Indian workers in Iraq ‘uncontactable’

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New Delhi, June 18 :

The Indian government said Wednesday it has not been able to contact 40 Indian workers in the Iraqi city of Mosul but declined to say if they had been abducted by Sunni insurgents.

The external affairs ministry also said it was sending a seasoned diplomat, Suresh Reddy, to Baghdad to assist the Indian embassy’s efforts to reach out to Indians stranded in violence-hit Iraq.

“There are reports that there are 40 Indian nationals in Mosul. Despite our best efforts, at this stage we haven’t been able to contact them. So, they remain uncontactable at this stage,” the ministry said.

“Beyond that, I am not able to confirm or verify reports of a speculative nature,” ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told the media.

Media reports have claimed that the 40 Indians have been seized by suspected Sunni insurgents while they were being evacuated from Mosul.

Meanwhile, the 46 Indian nurses – mostly from Kerala – stranded in Tikrit have been looked up by the Iraqi Red Crescent at the request of the Indian government, Akbaruddin said.

According to him, the Indian embassy was regularly in touch with all Indian nationals in Iraq.

He said Suresh Reddy was “our ambassador (in Iraq) previously. He is well versed and knowledgeable about the area”.

Al Qaeda-inspired militants have overrun key Iraqi cities, threatening the country’s territorial integrity.

(IANS)