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India says 39 workers abducted in Iraq in 2015 found dead

Published: Updated:

Iraqi authorities have found the bodies of 39 Indian workers who were abducted by militants from the Mosul area three years ago, India's foreign minister said Tuesday.

The abducted workers, mostly from northern India, had been employed by a construction company near Mosul when militants overran the Iraqi city and seized wide swaths of territory.

Relatives said they received phone calls from some of the workers five days after Mosul was captured in 2015 saying they needed help.

Around 10,000 Indians worked and lived in Iraq at that time

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told lawmakers in Parliament on Tuesday that the bodies were recently found buried in a mound of earth near Badush, a village northwest of Mosul that Iraqi forces had taken back from the ISIS group last July.

Search operations led to a mound in Badush where local residents said bodies had been buried by the ISIS group, Swaraj said.

Iraqi authorities used radar to establish that the mound was a mass grave, she said, and exhumed the bodies. Indian authorities then sent DNA samples of relatives of the missing workers.

Swaraj said Iraqi authorities informed the Indian government on Monday that DNA tests confirmed that 38 of them were the kidnapped workers. The DNA test for the remaining body has yet to be fully confirmed.