Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met senior officials to discuss options to rescue 39 workers held hostage in northern Iraq after one fled his kidnappers in the insurgency-torn country.
All hostages are safe and the one who escaped is talking to Indian officials at the Baghdad embassy, Syed Akbaruddin, a spokesman for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, told reporters in New Delhi today. India has evacuated 16 of its citizens from Iraq leaving about 100 in the country, he said.
“We are knocking on all doors,” Akbaruddin said, referring to efforts to negotiate release of the prisoners. “As diplomats it’s normal for us to knock front doors. However, we are also knocking on back doors.”
About 46 Indian nurses who are stranded in Tikrit, which is under militant control, now have access to electricity and food and are in contact with the Indian embassy, Akbaruddin said. Many of them are stuck in the hospital where they work.
Sunni Muslim insurgents led by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, have seized cities north of Baghdad from the Shiite-led government. U.S. President Barack Obama is deploying military advisers and reconnaissance planes to help repel the conflict that threatens to draw in regional powers including Shiite-ruled Iran and Sunni Gulf Arab states.