Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: The government reiterated on Wednesday that the 39 Indians who were in captivity of militants in strife-torn Iraq were unharmed and that all options were being explored to bring them back to the country.
Addressing the press, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said that the government was in touch with variety of sources to secure the release of Indians who were abducted from Iraqi town of Mosul.
He also revealed that two nurses had been moved to Karbala which was a “safe zone”. “We will ensure their safe return,” he said, adding, “No intrusions have been reported in the hospital. 46 Nurses remain safe. We remain in touch with them.”
These nurses were in a hospital in Tikrit.
At the same time Akbaruddin said that 17 people who had been evacuated from conflict zone yesterday had travelled out of Iraq.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh also said today that the government was looking into all options for safe evacuation of stranded Indians from Iraq.
Singh was replying to a question whether India is planning "mass evacuation" of stranded Indians from Iraq, PTI reported.
India has evacuated 17 more of its nationals from the conflict zone of Iraq with the help of local authorities taking the total number of those rescued so far to 34 and also advised its citizens to leave on voluntary basis by commercial means in view of the "fragile" security situation.
Insurgents led by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have captured swathes of land North and West of Baghdad this month. Heavy causalities have been reported from the country where as per the United Nations, 1,100 people have been killed.
Meanwhile, even as US military advisers have landed in Baghdad, Washington has refused Iraq`s Shiite Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki request for air strikes in a bid to repel the onslaught by the militants.
The offensive by the ISIL has resulted in displacement of hundreds of thousands of people in the country, as per reports.
It is also being said that hundreds of soldiers have been killed since the offensive began. The `brutal` ISIL also uploaded pictures of mass killings of Iraqi soldiers on social networking sites. However, the authenticity of it cannot be confirmed.
On the other hand, in a significant development, al Qaeda`s Syrian offshoot today made an oath of loyalty to ISIL, a monitor said, as per PTI.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the merger is significant because it opens the way for ISIL to take control of both sides of the border at Albu Kamal in Syria and Al-Qaim in Iraq.
Although both ISIL and the Al-Nusra Front are rooted in al Qaeda, the two have been rivals for much of the time that ISIL has been involved in Syria`s civil war since spring last year.
With PTI inputs