Forty Indians have been kidnapped from the jihadist-held city of Mosul in northern Iraq, posing the first major international challenge to the government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.
Officials of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Iraq conveyed to the Embassy of India in Baghdad that 40 Indians — mostly construction workers — have been abducted from Mosul, which recently fell to jihadists of an Al-Qaeda offshoot.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Wednesday revealed that it received information about the kidnap of the Indians. Syed Akbaruddin, official spokesperson of the MEA, told journalists in New Delhi that the abducted workers were mostly from Punjab and employees of Tariq Noor AL Huda Company, which specialises in construction.
The MEA did not officially confirm the identity of the kidnappers, but it is suspected that either the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which recently took control of Mosul, Tikrit and several other cities in the West Asian country, or any of its local affiliate groups, might have abducted the workers.
“These are difficult situations. We are working with the company. Also, we are trying to work with International Red Crescent which has confirmed to us (the kidnap). But they have also indicated that at this stage they do not know the location of the 40 Indian workers who have been kidnapped,” said Akbaruddin. He, however, confirmed that no call from the kidnappers seeking ransom for the release of the hostages had been received.
The workers were apparently kidnapped when they were trying to flee the jihadist-held city. The MEA, however, declined to provide details about the incident and did not clarify if the construction workers were abducted when they were being evacuated by the Indian Embassy in Baghdad.