India brings back 94 Indians from Iraq amid stepped-up efforts

The union government on Monday ''facilitated'' the return of 94 Indians from strife-torn Iraq, and the number is expected to touch 600 by the end of this week, according to the ministry of external affairs.

Indian officials in Iraq are reaching out to the country's stranded citizens and facilitating paperwork and ticketing for those who want to return home, according to MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin – who seems to have been given sole charge of dealing with the media on the Iraq issue by foreign minister Sushma Swaraj.

''The facilitation of Indian nationals in Iraq in areas which are not in conflict zones is now under way,'' he said, adding that special mobile teams are reaching out to Indians in Najaf, Karbala, Basra and Baghdad, advising them to leave the country.

He did not clarify how they were expected to make their way home. Some 39 Indian construction workers, mostly from Punjab, are actually being held hostage near Basra.

''The departure of more than 600 Indian nationals will be facilitated during the course of this week,'' Akbaruddin said, adding that 60 Indians from Najaf, 30 from Karbala and four from Baghdad left Iraq Monday.

Asked about 39 Indians who have been abducted, he iterated that they were ''knocking on all doors''.