Indians in Iraq: Saudi Arabia help sought?
New Delhi: With India getting some insight into the location and situation of its abducted citizens in Iraq, sources indicate that the Centre is mulling over the idea to take help from Saudi Arabia to secure those trapped.
As per reports, high-level talks have already begun between India and Saudi officials and both are looking into saving the Indian nationals from violence-hit Iraqi city, Mosul.
Saudi Arabia is believed to have a strong influence on Iraq's Sunni militants.
Earlier, on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level security review meeting on the Iraq hostage crisis and was given a detailed briefing on the issue by senior officials from top intelligence and security agencies.
Senior intelligence officials said that the available information indicates that an Indian and some Bangladeshi nationals managed to escape while they were being taken into custody by suspected militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS.
Modi was informed that the 39 Indians kidnapped in Iraq were part of a larger group comprising as many as 115 people from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal.
The entire group has been traced “within a five-metre radius in a government building in Mosul town and all of them are said to be safe as of now,” the PM was informed.
On the issue of the identity of the kidnappers, the meeting was told that though prima facie it seems to be the work of the ISIL, the involvement of other Sunni splinter terrorist groups cannot be ruled out at this stage.
Sources claimed that the meeting also briefed that the possibility of the kidnappers, particularly if the incident has been carried out by a splinter terror outfit, seeking ransom cannot be ruled out and thus there was a need for the government to be prepared with a contingency plan.
So far the Indian agencies have not been able to establish a direct contact with the kidnappers.
Of the estimated 120 Indians currently stranded in areas overrun by the ISIL, 16 have been evacuated, the Centre said.
The government said the Indian embassy in Baghdad is also in touch with the 46 nurses stranded in a hospital in Tikrit that has been overrun by the Sunni militants. These nurses remain within the hospital and have access to food and electricity.
US President Barack Obama has also cleared the air and said that he has only approved sending 300 military advisors to train Iraqi forces.
22 Oct 2019 1:43 PM GMT