India says 40 construction workers abducted in Iraq

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Forty Indian construction workers have been abducted in violence-hit northern Iraq, the Indian foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

The workers were taken from the region around Mosul, which has been overrun by militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a foreign ministry spokesman said.

"We have not received any ransom calls yet," Syed Akbaruddin told reporters in New Delhi.

"We are trying to get as much information as possible from anyone trying to give us information from the ground," he said.

"We don't know where they are," he added.

The Times of India earlier reported that the workers mostly from Punjab state had been kidnapped by the militants during an evacuation of the Mosul area.

Akbaruddin said 46 Indian nurses were also stranded in Iraq waiting for the turmoil to subside.

The Indian foreign ministry has set up a 24-hour control room in New Delhi to provide information on Iraq and was dispatching a former envoy to the country to assist its embassy in Baghdad.

Since launching their offensive on June 9, ISIL has captured Mosul and a big chunk of mainly-Sunni Arab territory stretching south towards the capital.

The offensive has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and sent jitters through world oil markets as the militants have advanced ever nearer to Baghdad, leaving the Shiite-led government in disarray.

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