India has evacuated 17 more of its nationals from the conflict zone of Iraq with the help of local authorities taking the total number of those rescued so far to 34 and also advised its citizens to leave on voluntary basis by commercial means in view of the "fragile" security situation.
The External Affairs Ministry, which issued a fresh travel advisory on Tuesday asking Indians to remain indoors if they are in conflict-prone areas, said, "The safety of Indians in Iraq remains the matter of importance for the country."
"We have, with the help of local authorities, evacuated 17 more Indian nationals from the conflict zone of Iraq and they are now in Baghdad," the Spokesperson in the MEA said.
The ministry had earlier evacuated 17 Indians from the country while 39 Indian citizens still remain in captivity.
"The Indians in captivity are still in captivity but they are not hurt or harmed," the spokesperson said.
He said government was also in constant touch with the 46 nurses who were in a hospital in Tikrit, another violence-affected city which also fell to the Sunni militant group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). The nurses are in a hospital and food was being provided to them.
However, he added that it was not possible to give the exact number of Indians in the conflict zone.
The spokesperson said the Indian embassy officials along with Iraqi officials are setting up a joint committee to help those Indians who want to leave but have immigration problems.
The ministry has issued an advisory which said, "The security situation in Iraq continues to be fragile. A travel advisory had been issued on 15 June, 2014, for Indian nationals in Iraq.
"Due to the uncertain and difficult security environment, Indian nationals in Iraq are again advised to remain indoors if they are in conflict-prone areas, and to leave the country on voluntary basis by commercial means, in areas where it is safe to do so.
"Indian nationals are advised to refrain from undertaking travel to Iraq until further notice. Airports in the cities of Erbil, Baghdad, Basra and Najaf are reported to be operational at present."
The spokesperson also said the Indian Embassy in Baghdad will shortly open camp offices in Najaf, Karbala and Basra for the convenience of Indians nationals in Iraq.
Image: Gunmen celebrate near a vehicle belonging to Iraqi security forces in the northern Iraq city of Mosul Photographs: Reuters