Bodies of 39 Indian workers kidnapped by Daesh found in Iraq
The bodies of 39 Indian construction workers kidnapped in Iraq in 2014 by Daesh Takfiri terrorists have been found in a mass grave, India's foreign minister said Tuesday.
Sushma Swaraj told the upper house of parliament the workers had been murdered by Daesh.
Their bodies had been found in the grave in the village of Badush northwest of the city of Mosul and taken to a local organisation for DNA testing.
"Yesterday they told us that 38 samples had matched. The 39th had a partial match as he didn't have any immediate family," said Swaraj.
The workers were abducted in June 2014 when the terrorists overran large swathes of territory in Iraq and captured Mosul.
The government had for years insisted they were believed still alive and the latest announcement sparked criticism from some relatives of the dead.
The victims were mostly from poor families in India's northern state of Punjab and had been working for a construction company in Mosul when they were rounded up.
"We got to know that these people were moved from Mosul to Badush by their captors," Swaraj said.
When India's junior foreign minister Vijay Kumar Singh and Iraqi government officials went to Badush, someone told them to inspect a mound in the village, the minister added.
"They said that they had buried many people there (in a mass grave). We reached there and requested Iraqi authorities to use a deep penetration radar, which detected many bodies under the surface," she told parliament.
When the area was excavated, Indian officials found many identification marks such as non-Iraqi shoes and Sikh religious bangles.
"We felt these were our people... contacted a foundation working on the issue and shared missing workers' families' DNA samples with them for the identification process," the foreign minister told parliament.
The Indian government had never received any ransom demand or any other direct communication from the kidnappers.
A special plane will bring 38 of the 39 bodies home after formalities are completed in Iraq. The DNA matching process is still incomplete for the final victim.