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ISIS militants warn families against contacting nurses

July 04, 2014 13:13 IST

Anxious families of the nurses under captivity are scared to phone their daughters after being threatened. Vicky Nanjappa reports

The ordeal for the families of the Indian nurses trapped in Iraq has just worsened. Though in danger and under captivity, the nurses, till yesterday, were able to stay in touch with their families through cell phone. But that has changed after the ISIS militants forcibly moved all the 46 Indian nurses stranded in an Iraqi hospital from Tikrit to Mosul.    

When some of the families called their daughters on Thursday, they were informed that they were being moved from the hospital and had been told not to use their cell phones anymore.

“I tried calling my daughter again but an Arab answered the phone,” said S Kumar the father of one of the nurses in captivity.

Kumar, a resident of Alleppey in Kerala, said he spoke to his daughter the last time around 2.30 pm on Thursday. “She told us they were being taken away by the ISIS and they had no option but to do what was ordered,” said Kumar.

Another relative of a nurse said that his niece had got in touch with them around 1.45 pm on Thursday. “She was scared and crying. Around ten men had come to the hospital basement where they were staying and ordered them to get on a bus. Some resisted but the militants threatened to bomb the hospital if the nurses refused to move,” he said.

The nurse informed they could hear bombs going off and witnessed fighting on the streets. A few of them sustained minor injuries when a bomb exploded nearby. 

Several families spoke to narrated similar experiences. They were now scared to call their daughters fearing they would be harmed. When one of them tried calling their daughter around 3.30 pm on Thursday, a stern voice warned them against calling again. 

“Now we do not want to risk it,” said a relative of Veena, one of the nurses.

None of the nurses knew where they were being taken to. The families said they learnt about them being taken to Mosul through TV reports.

P A Jose, the father of nurse Marina, said he was hopeful. “All I can do now is pray. I do not want to say anything more. I do not know how my daughter is at the moment and we do not want her and the others to be harmed. I can only request the government to bring them back,” he said.

The Indian government has its interlocutors assessing the situation but this drop in communication has caused a major problem. The government is contemplating speaking with Saudi Arabia for help. It believes that several people in Saudi Arabia support the ISIS.

Image: The site of a bomb attack by ISIS militants who have vowed to take over Baghdad. Photographs: Reuters

Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore