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Two Indian nurses evacuated from conflict zone in Iraq

New Delhi: Two Indian nurses have been evacuated from the conflict zone in violence-hit Iraq even as the 17 Indians who were moved out of Baghdad Tuesday have left the country, a top official said on Wednesday.

India Iraq unrest
Divam, 3, is pictured holding a portrait of her father Rajesh Kumar in Mira Saheb Village, some 15 kms from Jammu on June 19, 2014. Pic: AFP

The two nurses have been moved to the relatively safe zone in Karbala, south of Baghdad. The Indian mission is helping them with tickets to enable them to fly back to India as soon as possible, external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said at a briefing here.

He said the 17 Indians who were taken out of Baghdad on Tuesday, have "moved out of Iraq".

The 46 Indian nurses who are in a hospital in Tikrit, which has been overrun by the Sunni militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), are still in the hospital. The Indian embassy in Baghdad is in touch with them, they are being provided food and electricity and "no one has intruded in their hostel", the spokesperson said.

"We are working to see how best to move them," Akbaruddin said, adding that moving them by road is unsafe, and Tikrit has no air connectivity. AThe nurses have been instructed not to move out of their area.

He also said that the Indian workers in Mosul, said to be 39 in number, are unharmed. He said the ministry is "not in dark about them" and that they have confirmed from multiple sources that the Indians in captivity are unharmed.

"We will continue to follow it and work on it," he said.

He reiterated that India is examining "all options" to rescue those in captivity. "Efforts are on in every front. We are examining every front - the front door, that is diplomacy, the back door and the trap door.. We are covering every option," he said.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has been monitoring the situation and has convened a meeting of heads of Indian missions of the Gulf countries in New Delhi on June 29 to "explore every option". Indian envoy in Iraq Ajay Kumar would however remain in Baghdad to oversee the situation, the spokesperson added.

Iraq is in a state of sectarian strife with the Sunni militants having overrun large swathes of area in the north and east. They have captured Mosul and Tikrit and are fighting for control of the oil city of Baiji. They have captured several more key areas on the border with Syria and Jordan.

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