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Forty Indian construction workers kidnapped by extremists in Iraq

New Delhi, June 18 (): Forty construction workers of India have been kidnapped in violence-hit areas of northern Iraq but no ransom demands have been asked so far, said the foreign ministry on Wednesday.

Spokesman of foreign ministry Syed Akbaruddin said that the group of workers had been employed for a building company in Mosul area that has been infested by militants.

Iraqi government and humanitarian agencies have told India that the workers are mostly from Punjab,. They have been abducted but no confirmation on their location have been received yet, Akbaruddin said. He said no call in any nature have been received yet from anyone specifying about ransom demands or about captivating Indians in custody in Iraq.

The ministry is trying to acquire as much data possible from everyone willing to give information. Information are received from Iraqi government, aid agencies and other reliable sources. But, Akbaruddin said there are “no guarantees on such information”.

A 24-hour control room has been set up in the Indian foreign ministry to deliver information on Iraq and has sent Suresh Reedy, former ambassador to Baghdad, to help its embassy in Baghdad.

On June 9, Sunni Arab militants made an attack, capturing Mosul having population of two million and a big territory widening south towards the capital.

The offensive led by the Islamic State of Iraq’s jihadists and the Levant (ISIL) has moved many people as the attack advanced on Baghdad, leaving the Shiite-led government in confusion.

On Wednesday, the biggest oil refinery of the country was attacked by the militants, as premier of Iraq scrambled to recover the initiative by firing security commanders and getting out to the political rivals.

Nearly 10,000 Indians are in Iraq currently with about 100 fixed in violence-hit regions, the spokesman of foreign ministry said.

Akbaruddin said among the stranded people in Iraq were 46 Indian nurses who are waiting for the chaos to ease off.

Over phone, several have told some Indian television stations that they were like prisoners at a state-run hospital in the city of Tikrit after being abandoned by their employers as well as the military.