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3 Indians taken hostage in Iraq

July 21, 2004 22:15 IST
Last Updated: July 22, 2004 08:40 IST

A group calling itself 'Black Flags' has taken six people, including three Indians, hostage in Iraq and threatened to behead them if the Kuwaiti firm for which they work does not pull out of the country.

The three Indians have been identified as Antaryami, Tilak Raj and Sukdev Singh. Three Kenyans Ibrahim Khamis, Salm Faiz Khamis and Jalal Awadh and one Egyptian Mohammed Ali Sanad were were identified as the other abducted persons.

India on Wednesday night said it would do everything possible to secure the release of its nationals. Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmed said the trio had gone to Iraq on their own and the government has no role in it.

"As soon as we got the information, we established contact with our embassy in Baghdad and also our ambassador in Kuwait and asked him to talk to the transport firm (which was asked by the militant group to pull out of Iraq) and get further details.

"We hope that everything will be resolved because India has taken a firm stand that it will not send troops to Iraq. We will provide whatever humanitarian aid possible to Iraq and India has always advocated in international bodies that sovereign power of the people of Iraq has to be respected."

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It is because of New Delhi's stand that Indians have not been targetted by anyone anywhere in the world, especially in Iraq. "I have asked officials in Baghdad to establish contact with any other source who can convey to the abductors our stand," he said.

External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh, who is in Islamabad for the SAARC Ministerial Conference, has been briefed about the development.

Militants have been regularly targetting Americans after the US invaded Iraq in March 2003. They have also targetted soldiers of its allies.

Of late, they have hardened their position and targetted civilians working for companies that the US brought to Iraq to rebuild the country it had bombed during the invasion.

The US has failed to get the United Nations to endorse the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq but managed to persuade a few nations to send their troops to help it maintain law and order.

India has consistently refused to send troops to Iraq but several Indians are employed with companies helping rebuild Iraq or offering essential services.

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