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Indian province fears 15 missing including 5 women joined ISIS

The 15 missing are all young, and include five married couples, one with a two-year-old child

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At least 15 Muslims in the southern Indian state of Kerala are missing and may have joined ISIS, their relatives say.

Several of their relatives said that week that they had received messages on WhatsApp suggesting that the missing people had reached the place of “divine rule…Islamic State,” the Indian Express reported on Saturday.

The 15 missing are all young, and include five married couples, one with a two-year-old child.

Sources told the daily that the missing people knew each other, and several had previously worked in the Gulf states.

“They had never been associated with any political or religious organization. But, over the last two years, they had turned orthodox, with the men sporting long beards,” an unnamed source told the paper.

Kerala’s state police chief urged caution over the reports and said that “we can’t come to any conclusions” on their whereabouts.

“[Their] families have not approached local police with a formal complaint,’’ said Loknath Behera, Kerala's director general of police.

Late last year, Indian news outlets reported that a total of 23 Indians had left to join ISIS in either Syria or Iraq – 17 of them from southern states.

Some sources suggest that the so-called caliphate, headquartered in the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa, had struggled this year to gain more recruits, amid social media crackdowns limiting the spread of militant propaganda and heavy bombings from allied coalitions.