Bodies of 38 Indian workers killed by ′IS′ in Iraq returned | Middle East| News and analysis of events in the Arab world | DW | 02.04.2018
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Bodies of 38 Indian workers killed by 'IS' in Iraq returned

The remains of 38 Indian workers who were murdered in Iraq by the "Islamic State" group have been flown back to India. The government there has faced criticism for initially not confirming the killings.

A special plane carrying the coffins of 38 Indian workers who were killed by "Islamic State" (IS) militants in Iraq four years ago arrived in the northern Indian city of Amritsar on Monday.

The workers were abducted and murdered by the extremists shortly after the group took the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in the summer of 2014 during a lightning offensive through central and northern Iraq.

Initially, 40 workers were kidnapped, but one escaped and the presumed remains of another have yet to be positively identified.

The other workers' bodies were finally identified in March after they were discovered in a mass grave following the recapture of Mosul by Iraqi forces last year.

Lack of information

The victims were mostly from poor families in India's northern state of Punjab and had been working for a construction company operating near Mosul. They may have been killed because of their Sikh or Hindu faith.

There were around 10,000 Indians working in Iraq at the time, most of whom fled the country during the upsurge in violence in 2014.

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Iraq: Authorities find bodies of 38 Indian construction workers

The Indian government officially confirmed the deaths of the 38 workers on March 20. Relatives of the victims have accused authorities of previously keeping them in the dark, with officials insisting the abductees were alive until proven otherwise.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has denied that the families were given false hope.

IS boasted about massacring people whom it considered enemies, apostates or unbelievers, with dozens of mass graves found in areas it once held.

The group once had control of about a third of Iraq, but was driven out during a three-year campaign by Iraqi forces backed by a US-led coalition.

tj/mkg (AFP, dpa, AP)

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