NEW DELHI, July 5 (Xinhua) -- Some 46 Indian nurses, along with 100 other Indians, arrived in Mumbai by a special flight Saturday, a day after they were freed by militants in war-torn Iraq, sources said.
The sources also said that the para-medics would soon head to their home town of Kochi in southern state of Kerala.
"All the 146 Indians have reached Mumbai by a special Air India flight. The plane, which took off from the airport in Erbil in the Iraqi autonomous region of Kurdistan at 4.15 a.m. (local time) made a stopover in Mumbai, After refueling, it will head to Kochi, the home town of the nurses," the sources said.
In fact, apart from the nurses, most of the other Indian nationals on board the special flight hail from Kerala. Though not directly hit by the civil war in Iraq, these people wanted to come back and boarded the flight after contacting the Indian Embassy in Baghdad, the sources added.
The nurses were stranded in a hospital at Tikrit, the birthplace of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, since June 12 when Sunni insurgent group ISIS took control of the city. On Thursday, they were forced to board two buses and were taken to Mosul where they were handed over to Indian officials.
On Friday, the Indian External Affairs Ministry announced the nurses had been freed. "Hope has triumphed. The nurses moved against their will are free," Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told the media in the national capital.