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46 Kerala nurses in Tikrit asked to board bus to Mosul

New Delhi, 3 July-2014, IANS: The 46 Indian nurses stranded in Iraq’s Tikrit town that has been overrun by ISIS militants have been told to board a bus by unknown men and proceed to Mosul. Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy confirmed the development. The Indian embassy in Baghdad has advised the nurses to “try and hold on till (Thursday) morning”.

46 Kerala nurses in Tikrit asked to board bus to Mosul

46 Kerala nurses in Tikrit asked to board bus to Mosul
This file image posted on a militant website on June 14, 2014, which has been verified, appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired ISIL leading away captured Iraqi soldiers dressed in plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq. Photo: AP

The nurses have not left, an official source told IANS.

The nurses had on Tuesday refused to board two buses brought by “some English-speaking men” to the hospital compound in Tikrit where they have been stranded for more than two weeks. But on Wednesday they were being forced to board the buses and were told they would be taken to Mosul, which is another stronghold of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday night, said he would be meeting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj over the matter.

Asked about the nurses being told to travel by bus, the chief minister told IANS: “Yes, I am told the people are going by bus.”

“I’m contacting the union foreign minister, the Indian embassy in Iraq,” the chief minister added.

According to a source, the nurses are very worried.

One of the nurses told IANS that they contacted the Indian embassy officials in Baghdad and were “advised to try and hold on till tomorrow morning”.

The men who asked them to leave have given the nurses “two hours” to decide and warned that the hospital is going to be bombed, a source told IANS.

The nurses are frightened with the sound of explosions going off around the hospital. The Iraqi army is locked in a fierce battle with the ISIS militants to retake the city. “Bombs are exploding around the hospital all the time,” one of them said.

On Tuesday, the nurses had refused to board the buses after being told by the Indian embassy officials to stay put. They remained in the hospital in Tikrit.

Chandy arrived in New Delhi late Wednesday night to discuss how to help the nurses.

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