NEW DELHI, July 5 (Xinhua) -- Forty-six Indian nurses, who were freed by militants in Iraq on Friday evening, reached their home town of Kochi in the southern state of Kerala by a special flight Saturday, along with over 100 other Indians who got trapped in that war-torn country.
"The nurses, who were stranded in the violence-hit Iraqi city of Tikrit for over three weeks, have finally reached Kochi, three hours after their special plane made a brief stopover at Mumbai airport for refueling. All the nurses, except one, as well as most of other Indians who returned hail from Kerala," sources said.
Local TV channels showed footage of emotional reunion of the nurses with their families as Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy received them at the Kochi International Airport.
In fact, 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.