ISIL moves Indian nurses to new area
NEW DELHI: Dozens of Indian nurses who have been stranded at an Iraqi hospital are safe but are being forced to move to a new area controlled by militants, an Indian official said Thursday.
Forty-six nurses have been holed up for more than a week in Tikrit, where militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have taken over.
Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said the nurses were unharmed, but were being taken Thursday to a new area under the extremist group’s control. He would not say who was moving the medical workers, but said the nurses “did not go on their own free will.”
He described the situation as one of “grave difficulty.”
He denied reports that there was a bomb blast as the nurses left Tikrit, but said some received minor injuries when some glass broke as they were leaving the hospital.
He said Indian Embassy officials in Baghdad had spoken to some of the nurses as they left Tikrit.
Akbaruddin also said 40 Indian construction workers abducted two weeks ago near Mosul were still being held, but were safe.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Bangladeshi construction workers have been beaten and humiliated by soldiers in Iraq after becoming dragged into their host country’s sectarian conflict, two of their colleagues said.
Some had their beards shaved off by the mainly Shiite troops after being accused of sympathizing with insurgents while one of them was stripped naked, according to the men after they returned home.
“They abducted the Bangladeshi cleric from our camp mosque last Thursday and when he was released on Saturday, you could see torture marks all over his body,” Raqibul said in Dhaka.
“They burned his beard with cigarettes and then cut it off with knife. He was also beaten with stones.
“He was tortured because he is a Sunni. He was returned only after we stopped work and protested his abduction,” he added.
Mofidul Islam, another of the group of 21 workers who managed to return to Bangladesh on Tuesday, said abuses had been widespread.
“The Iraqis beat hundreds of our colleagues. They think that a beard is a sign that you are a Sunni militant so whoever has a big beard was targeted and beaten mercilessly.”