07/01/2014, 00.00
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Iraq: 46 Indian nurses “safe” but held by Sunni militias

One nurse succeeds in contacting her brother in India to say that she is fine. The hospital in which they are trapped was taken by ISIS jihadists. It is still impossible for them to return home, because of clashes around the main airports.

New Delhi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The 46 Indian nurses trapped in Iraq "are safe", but still stuck in Tikrit, where battles are raging between Sunni militias and the Shiite army. The brother of one of the nurses confirmed to the Times of India that his sister phoned him this morning. The nurse, whose name is Jency James, described moments of serious tension overnight at the Tikrit Teaching Hospital, where they have been trapped since the beginning of June.

"I spoke to her this morning - says the brother Bony James - and she said all the nurses were asleep since they stayed up late last night as there was a pitched battle between the rebels and Iraqi forces. The militants are inside the hospital and have taken control. They have been nice and courteous to the nurses and said that they were safe and would not be harmed".

Contacted by the BBC, Marina Jose - another nurse - reported that the militants have asked them to move to the ground floor of the building, where there are the kitchens, for security reasons. The woman described high levels of "fear."

Meanwhile, the evacuation of the 46 women is still uncertain: the streets leading to the nearby airports in Baghdad and Erbil are still areas of conflict between the Iraqi army and Sunni militiamen of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS, jihadists).

However, some nurses are torn between the desire to return to India and the need to remain in Iraq. Many of them actually asked for the loan to be able to move to the Muslim country, and claim they can only meet repayments because of the high wages they earn in Iraq.


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