The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday said at least four Nepali nationals working in Iraq were freed by their kidnappers belonging to a radical Islamist group and "are due to return home soon".
They were briefly abducted by an unidentified militia active in Tikrit, a hotspot of the ongoing war between the Iraqi state and Islamic militants, and released on Friday, said the ministry.
The Nepalis are in a local hotel and will return home soon, said the ministry. They were kidnapped while being relocated from Tikrit to Sulemania. Construction workers Bishnu Basnet (32) of Ramechhap, Sukachaur; Indra Bahadur Limbu (44) and Subas Nemwang (24) of Dhankuta, Mudebas, and Anil Chaudary of Dang, Lamahi, have reportedly been promised by their company ATK Construction that they will be sent home by Sunday. Around 200 Nepalis are said to be working in the company.
"We were being shifted to Sulemania for safety as clashes intensified in Tikrit. However, we got kidnapped on our way by militiamen who took us to their base," Basnet said on the phone from Iraq.
"Our captors treated us well and asked about our nationality while assuring that they will neither harm us nor let any harm come our way as they fought for statehood."
Basnet added that he and his three Nepali friends identified themselves as Muslims upon being asked about their religion.
"They told us to read Namaz and started serving us water, tea and food. They released us after video-recording our interviews," Basnet said, adding that Nepali, Pakistani, Indian and Turkish abductees were asked to speak well of the militia. They were freed in the presence of Turkish peacekeepers.
Basnet, who reached Iraq two years ago after paying his agent Rs 200,000, said many Nepalis have already left the country.
According to ministry spokesperson Dipak Dhital, the government has come up with contingency plans to rescue Nepalis from the troubled country and is in touch
with Nepali missions abroad and the International Organisation for Migration.
A temporary office has also been set up at the ministry to gather information about the migrants. People can call the toll free number 1660-01-00186 or send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org to post information or seek help.