Foreign construction workers in Iraq have become the target of Islamic militants raiding towns and seizing large swaths of territory in the country on a march toward the capital city of Baghdad.
Two separate Associated Press reports put the total number of construction workers kidnapped in the country in just the last few days at 100.
India’s Foreign Ministry announced today that 40 of its citizens working for a construction company near the Iraqi town of Mosul had been kidnapped. A second report said the Turkish Foreign Ministry was investigating claims that another 60 construction workers, 15 Turks among them, had been kidnapped near the city of Kirkuk.
The Indian Foreign Ministry says it has had no contact with the kidnappers of its citizens. No group has come forward and claimed responsibility for the kidnappings but the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is suspected. Those workers were working for the Tariq Noor al-Huda construction company. It’s unclear where those workers were abducted but relatives of the workers did receive phone calls from some of them on Sunday, five days after the militants captured Mosul.
One hundred miles away in the city of Kirkuk, ISIS militants kidnapped 60 workers who were building a hospital there, according to reports from the Turkish news agency Dogan. The agency said its report was based on the account of a worker who was freed by the militants.
The Turkish Foreign Agency has yet to confirm the report but says its embassy is investigating.
ISIS began a siege on Iraq’s largest oil refinery in Beiji early Wednesday morning. The U.S. military has made no action as of yet in the ISIS incursion, but has positioned 275 soldiers in and around Iraq to protect U.S. assets. President Barack Obama is considering an array of options for combating the militants, according to the AP reports.