Even as concerns over the fate of the 40 Indians abducted in Iraq remain, Indian National Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi with an appeal to ensure their safety and promised Congress' support in the matter.
"I urge you to intensify all diplomatic efforts required to ensure their safety and secure their release," she said in the letter to Modi, as reported by the Press Trust of India.
Gandhi urged Modi, who was sworn in as the 15th PM last month, to "act swiftly" to bring back the Indians safely from Iraq, which has been seeing escalating violence by the militant outfit Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
On Friday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj assured that the location of the kidnapped Indians had been identified and are presumed to be safe.
"They are all safe and are lodged in two locations - a cotton mill and a government building," Swaraj told the family members of some of the kidnapped Indians, PTI reported.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, "We have been informed by the Iraqi Foreign Ministry that they have been able to determine the location of where these abducted Indian nationals are being held captive with workers of a few other nationalities".
"We are making all-out efforts to ensure that all Indians return safely. We are leaving no stone unturned and whosoever is to be contacted, we have activated all of them. We guarantee to bring them back the moment there is normalcy there," Swaraj said. She had also sent out an advisory to Indian nationals staying in Iraq to stay indoors for their safety.
Gandhi is also said to have assured Modi of Congress' support in all diplomatic efforts in the matter, saying, "It is imperative to act swiftly to evacuate all our nationals in the region and ensure their safe return. I assure you that the Indian National Congress will be fully supportive of all diplomatic efforts to achieve this objective."
Gandhi condemned the abduction as "despicable" and "cowardly." "The Indian National Congress condemns this assault on innocent civilians," she said.