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Iraq Crisis: ISIS may use Indian hostages as shields against military offensive

India TV News Desk 22 Jun 2014, 8:18:15 AM IST
India TV News Desk
New Delhi: The only person among the group of 40 to flee the captors in Iraq has told government officials that ISIS militants are planning to use the 39 Indian hostages as human shields in case of a military offensive by Iraqi or US authorities.

In its conversations with the escaped Indian Harjit Singh, now in the safe custody of Kurdish authorities in Erbil, the government has concluded that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant may use the Indians as their first line of defence,according to a Hindustan Times report.

Singh was among 40 Indian construction workers kidnapped by the ISIS men from their place of work in Mosul in northern Iraq on June 15.

Singh told Indian and Kurdish officials that he managed to melt into a group of Bangladeshis and jumped over a barbed-wire fence' to flee. He and others were used as porters and cooks by their captors, Singh told Baghdad-based Indian embassy officials.

Singh used the phone of one of his Bangladeshi friends to contact the Indian embassy, shared information with Iraqi authorities looking for insights into the workings of the jihadi group, said sources.

Indian side, too, is in touch with him but a government official said that all of Singh's account is not matching the version of the Bangladeshis with whom he travelled to Erbil. Singh appears to be traumatised and keeps saying ‘get me out of here'.

The government continues to work with different organisations and countries in a bid to rescue the hostages.

Earlier, External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said that contact has been established with the Indians in captivity in Iraq. "We can confirm that all Indians are unharmed," he said.

Contact with the around 40 abducted Indians was established late Thursday night.

The Indians, who belong mostly to Punjab and Haryana state, were working in Mosul as construction workers, and as drivers or sanitary workers.

They were abducted around a week ago by suspected militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, who have overrun large parts of northern Iraq, taken over Mosul and Tikrit and are advancing towards Baghdad.