Confirming that the nurses are "on road" and moving towards an undisclosed destination, the Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry said they were moving for their own safety as there was no "freewill in a zone of conflict".

Asked if the nurses had been kidnapped, Akbaruddin said: "In zones of conflict there is no free will. This is a situation where lives are at stake."

The nurses remain "unharmed", he said, adding some nurses suffered minor injuries in an incident of glass-breaking in Iraq but no one has got any major injury.

However, the Spokesperson did not clearly say who asked them to move from the hospital in Tikrit and only added that "Our embassy continues to be in touch even as they are moving to another location."

Meanwhile, MEA has already given air tickets to nearly 1000 Indians to travel out of Iraq with 1500 Indians wanting to leave and have registered with the ministry.

Tikrit, the birthplace of former President Saddam Hussein, has been the site of fierce fighting this week as Iraqi troops battle to regain control of the city from al Qaeda splinter group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Indian nurses "safe": Chandy

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the 46 Indian nurses, a majority of them are from his state, who have been moved out of their hospital in
ISIS-controlled Tikrit town of war-torn Iraq, are "safe" and there was no need for "anxiety".

Chandy, who is getting regular updates from Indian diplomats in Iraq to ensure safe evacuation of stranded Indians, said the External Affairs Ministry and Indian Embassy officials are making "sincere efforts" to achieve the goal.

The Chief Minister met External Affairs
Minister Sushma Swaraj twice on Thursday and discussed various options to solve the crisis. They will be in Delhi for two-three days.

Kin of nurses tense

Reports that Keralite nurses stranded in Tikrit in Iraq had been "moved" from the hospital where they were working caused deep concern among relatives in
Kerala despite assurances from authorities that they were safe.

Concern over the safe evacuation of the nurses had soared in the last couple days. The nurses had informed their families that Tikrit had been under control of the rebels and water and power supply to the hospital disrupted. They were also fed small pieces of
bread and buns for the last few of days.

Some of the family members of the captive nurses told journalists in Kerala that they regretted the lack of adequate action by the Indian government to rescue the nurses.

(JPN)        

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