39 Indian workers in Iraq confirmed dead

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Thirty-nine Indian workers were abducted in June 2014 when IS jihadists overran large swathes of territory in Iraq. AFP/NARINDER NANU

NEW DELHI (AFP) – The bodies of 39 Indian construction workers kidnapped in Iraq in 2014 by the Islamic State group have been found in a mass grave, India’s foreign minister said yesterday.

Sushma Swaraj told the upper house of parliament the workers had been murdered by IS.

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 Mr Swaraj.

The 39 were abducted in June 2014 when IS jihadists overran large swathes of territory in Iraq and captured Mosul.

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.

The Indian government had never received any ransom demand or any other direct communication from the kidnappers.

India will send a special plane to bring the bodies home.

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