Millennium Post

Indian nurses in Iraq freed, to reach Kochi tomorrow

Indian nurses in Iraq freed, to reach Kochi tomorrow
A group of 46 Indian nurses held captive by Sunni militants ISIS in strife-torn Iraq have been set free and were being brought back home in a special Air India plane which left this evening for Erbil, a non-conflict zone. The nurses are expected to reach Kochi tomorrow morning, officials said on a day of dramatic developments in efforts to end their ordeal.

'I can confirm that the Indian nurses moved out against their will are free. They are in touch with the Indian Embassy officials at Erbil,' the Spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry told reporters in New Delhi. Erbil in north Iraq is the capital of Kurdistan region of the Arab Gulf country. The ordeal of the nurses, who were working at a hospital in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, began when a swift ISIS(Islamic State for Iraq and Syria) offensive was launched on June 9.

The nurses were moved out yesterday against their will and were held in the militant-held city of Mosul, 250 km from Tikrit. The Erbil International airport is 70 km from Mosul. 'The nurses are safe, unharmed,' the spokesperson said, adding the special Air India flight has taken off from Delhi. 'We won't be satisfied till we reach culmination of our efforts and bring all nationals back.' he added. A joint-secretary level IFS officer and an IAS woman officer from Kerala are among the Indian officials travelling on the chartered flight.

At a sperate press conference in Delhi, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the nurses have reached the border near the international airport at Erbil for their evacuation to India. 'The nurses will reach Kochi tomorrow morning,' Chandy said. 'The government of India, the embassy in Baghdad and the state government, all have worked together and finally we are achieving the objective to bring back the nurses to India,' he said. In Kochi, airport sources said Air India's special flight Boeing 777 carrying the nurses and other passengers from Erbil is expected to reach the city around 6.40 am tomorrow.

The nurses were moved in a vehicle by rebels from their hospital in Tikrit yesterday and were lodged in an old building near a hospital in Mosul, according to family members of a nurse from Kottayam. 'My daughter called me around 10.45 last night and said the group had been accommodated in a hall in Mosul. It appears to be part of a hospital...She told me not to get panicky if she did not call home frequently as she was not sure if there would be a facility to get the phone charged,' said Sobha, whose daughter is one of the nurses.
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