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India nurses stranded in Iraq to fly home Saturday

July 4, 2014

NEW DELHI (AP) — Dozens of Indian nurses who had been stranded in territory held by Islamic militants in Iraq are safe and will be flown back to India on Saturday, an Indian official said Friday.

Forty-six nurses had been holed up for more than a week in Tikrit, where fighters in the Islamic State group have taken over. On Thursday they were moved to a new area under the extremist group’s control, India’s foreign ministry had said.

The chief minister of Kerala state, Oommen Chandy, said that the nurses will return home on a special aircraft arranged by the Indian government. They are expected to arrive in the southern city of Kochi, which is in Kerala.

It remained unclear whether the nurses had been held by the militants or were just stranded in their territory, and Chandy offered no details.

“We are thankful to the government of India,” Chandy said.

According to the foreign ministry, 39 Indian construction workers were abducted two weeks ago and were being held by the militants, but were safe and unharmed.

About 10,000 Indians work and live in Iraq, but only about 100 are in violent, insecure areas.

The abducted construction workers were mostly from northern states including Punjab and had been employed by the Tariq Noor al-Huda construction company.

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