The 46 Indian nurses from India who were kidnapped by the ISIS in the Iraqi town of Tikrit have been released. According to LA Times, the nurses who were held for over a week were released on Friday. The news about the release of the Indian nurses has been confirmed by Syed Akbaruddin, a spokesman for India's External Affairs Ministry. Akbaruddin claimed that the freedom of the nurses was ensured after the Indian government put "enormous efforts within and outside of Iraq."
The 46 nurses were initially trapped inside a hospital building and were unable to move out as the ISIS fighters barged into the city earlier this month, taking control of the area. They were then taken under the custody of a group of ISIS fighters who took them aboard buses to the city of Mosul. Meanwhile, five nurses had suffered minor injuries at the time of transportation in an explosion.
The kidnapping of the nurses made national headlines in India and efforts to secure their release had started last week. Most of the nurses belong to the southern Indian state of Kerala. The Chief Minister of Kerala, Oommen Chandy too had taken keen interest in the case, and was in constant touch with India's central government to ensure their release was secured. According to NDTV, India used all her diplomatic might and friendly relations with other Middle Eastern countries to secure the release of the nurses. Fox News, reports that the nurses will return home on Saturday.
India's External Affairs Minister Ms. Sushma Swaraj had reportedly reached out to her counterparts in the Gulf and other countries, and sought their inputs to secure the nurses' release. She also met India's envoys in the region and sought their help to assess the situation and work out a deal with ISIS fighters to ensure that the nurses were not harmed release.
The diplomatic efforts seems to have paid off, and the nurses were finally allowed to leave Mosul. They were transported to northern Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. A special aircraft arranged by the Indian government would be sent to Iraq to bring the nurses home. The flight would take off from Erbil Airport on Saturday and is expected to land in the southern Indian city of Kochi, reports say.
Many of the nurses had managed to call up their relatives during the course of their ordeal. They have confirmed that ISIS militants did not harm them and that the kidnappers had treated them well. The released nurses have also thanked the government of India for their help in ensuring their release.
[Image Via Khaleej Times, VEOOZ]