NEW DELHI/KOCHI, July 4 � A group of 46 Indian nurses held captive by Sunni militants ISIS in strife-torn Iraq have been set free and were being brought back home in a special Air India plane which left this evening for Erbil, reports PTI.
The nurses are expected to reach Kochi tomorrow morning, officials said on a day of dramatic developments in efforts to end their ordeal.
�I can confirm that the Indian nurses moved out against their will are free. They are in touch with the Indian Embassy officials at Erbil,� the Spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry told reporters in New Delhi. Erbil in north Iraq is the capital of Kurdistan region of the Arab Gulf country, and is a non-conlfict zone.
The ordeal of the nurses, who were working at a hospital in Saddam Hussein�s hometown of Tikrit, began when a swift ISIS (Islamic State for Iraq and Syria) offensive was launched on June 9.
The nurses were moved out yesterday against their will and were held in the militant-held city of Mosul, 250 km from Tikrit. The Erbil International airport is 70 km from Mosul.
�The nurses are safe, unharmed,� the spokesperson said, adding the special Air India flight has taken off from Delhi.
�We won�t be satisfied till we reach culmination of our efforts and bring all nationals back.� he added.
A Joint-Secretary level IFS officer and an IAS woman officer from Kerala are among the Indian officials travelling on the chartered flight.
At a separate press conference in Delhi, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the nurses have reached the border near the international airport at Erbil for their evacuation to India. �The nurses will reach Kochi tomorrow morning,� Chandy said.