Fate of 39 Indians missing in Iraq for 3 years still unknown

:: Iraq’s foreign minister said Monday he does not know whether 39 Indian workers who were abducted by militants in Iraq three years ago are dead or alive.

Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari met with his Indian counterpart, Sushma Swaraj, and other Indian officials in New Delhi. He arrived on Monday for a four-day visit.

“We are not sure 100 percent whether they are alive or not,” he told reporters, adding that he couldn’t say anything more about their fate.

Swaraj had told relatives of the workers last week that they might be held in a prison in Badush, northwest of Mosul, which Iraqi forces have taken back from the Daesh group. Her statement came after a visit to Iraq by Indian Junior External Affairs Minister V.K. Singh.

India Today, an Indian TV news channel, reported from Iraq that the prison was demolished by the Daesh group.

The abducted workers, mostly from northern India, had been employed by a construction company near Mosul when militants overran the Iraqi city and seized wide swathes of territory.

Relatives in the northern Indian city of Amritsar said they received phone calls from some of the workers five days after Mosul was captured saying that they were in trouble and needed help.

Around 10,000 Indians worked and lived in Iraq at that time.

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