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MENAFN - The Peninsula - 17/06/2014
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(MENAFN - The Peninsula) The Indian nurses stranded in Tikrit, the town seized by the fighters from Al Qaeda-influenced Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) last week, are completely safe, the Indian embassy in Iraq yesterday said.

"The International Red Crescent Society volunteers visited the 46 Indian nurses that were stranded in a hospital they were working in since last week," India's Ambassador A Ajay Kumar said from Baghdad yesterday.

In all, there are 46 Indian nurses stranded in Tikrit - most of them from Kerala - and 41 construction workers are in Mosul, the embassy said. "Till now, they are completely safe," Kumar assured.

The nurses sought assistance from the Indian embassy on Friday as they were caught in the conflict zone after armed militants seized Tikrit city, 140km northwest of Baghdad, and took control of the abandoned posts of Iraqi security forces.

The nurses were sending SOS to their friends and families over the last week.

They could not be moved to any other places as all the areas around the town were highly unsafe, an official said. "The volunteers found them completely safe and working in the hospital," Ambassador Kumar added.

Tikrit is the hometown of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein, who was executed eight years ago.

Meanwhile, the Indian mission in Iraq has been considering a slew of measures to ensure safety of an estimated 18,000 Indian citizens as the week-long strife intensified in the restive northern parts of the country. "We are monitoring the situation closely and keeping all options ready. So far, everything is under control and there is nothing to worry," Kumar said.

Fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have seized the cities of Mosul and Tikrit in the northern region of the oil-rich Arab nation and were moving closer to Baghdad.


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