Armed representatives of the Sunni militant group ISIS, which is currently fighting Iraqi forces, have made an attempt to take away 46 Indian nurses stranded at a hospital in Tikrit to Mosul, another Iraqi city which is under their control.
BuTwo of the nurses told The Indian Express from Tikrit that the representatives of the “new government”, which has taken control of Tikrit, approached them on Tuesday. “When two buses came to the hospital, we thought Red Cross men have come to take us to safe places. t they told us they were the representatives of the new government and wanted us to work in a hospital in Mosul,” one of the nurses said.
They said the men were dressed in black and were carrying guns. They told the nurses it was not safe to stay at the hospital since the Iraqi military may target it in an attempt to regain control of Tikrit. “They wanted us to communicate our decision in an hour. However, we consulted the Indian embassy officials, who advised us to stay back at the hospital,” the nurse said.
The nurses said it was not safe to move along with the ISIS men to Mosul as there was the risk of attacks by the Iraqi military in transit. “Since, we were not ready to move out, they took away the vehicles,” said a nurse.
The nurses, who were stranded in the basement of the Tikrit Teaching Hospital following heavy bombing by the Iraqi forces in nearby areas, returned to their respective rooms on Wednesday after the situation improved after three days of intense fighting. “We were told to move to the hospital basement after a building near the hospital caught fire. The ISIS men approached us for our safety. As the situation is now almost calm, we all have returned to our earlier stay facilities in other floors. After three days, we slept yesterday.”
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The nurses said daily supply of provisions has not been affected so far at the hospital, which is under the control of the ISIS. “Their men are everywhere at the hospital, but they have always been cordial towards us. We are allowed to move within the hospital building. Daily supply of provisions has not been hit so far.”
They said they were concerned about the delay in payment of salary. “Thirty-one of us have not got a single month’s salary. Fifteen others have been denied salary for two months,” said one of them. “We have left for this strife-torn region only to feed our family. We are pleading the Indian government to help us get the arrears.”