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New India government struggles with Iraq 'kidnap' crisis

Published on Jun 19, 2014 6:19 PM
 
Wassan Singh (left) and Gurdiyal Singh, the respective fathers of Kuljeet Singh and Jasbir Singh, pose at the Golden Temple with portraits of their sons in Amritsar on June 19, 2014, after news that their children were among 40 Indian workers taken hostage in Iraq. India's new government struggled on Thursday to make headway in its first foreign crisis as it tried to secure the release of 40 construction workers being held in war-torn Iraq. -- PHOTO: AFP 

NEW DELHI (AFP) - India's new government struggled on Thursday to make headway in its first foreign crisis as it tried to secure the release of 40 construction workers being held in war-torn Iraq, home to some 10,000 Indian expatriates.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already dispatched a former ambassador to Baghdad to coordinate rescue efforts while the chief minister of Punjab province - where most of the workers hail from - has said he is willing to pay a ransom to gain their freedom.

But while India's foreign ministry has described the men as having been "kidnapped", it says it does not know who has taken them hostage, where they are being held and that it has not received any ransom demand.

The ministry said it was working with the Red Crescent Society and other aid groups in Iraq, but acknowledged the situation on the ground was "very difficult".

 
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