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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

India receives remains of workers killed by ISIL

Bodies of 38 men captured and killed by extremists will arrive in India on Monday

A casket holding one of 38 Indians abducted by ISIL in 2014 is loaded on to a truck to be transported from Baghdad's main morgue to the Baghdad airport on April 1, 2018. Khalid Mohammed / AP Photo
A casket holding one of 38 Indians abducted by ISIL in 2014 is loaded on to a truck to be transported from Baghdad's main morgue to the Baghdad airport on April 1, 2018. Khalid Mohammed / AP Photo

Indian officials on Sunday received the remains of 38 Indian construction workers captured and killed by ISIL in Iraq.

Ambassador Pradeep Singh Rajpurohit said the bodies had been taken to Baghdad's international airport and would arrive in India on Monday on a military flight.

India's Minister of State for External Affairs, Vijay Kumar Singh, saluted the remains at the airport as workers loaded the caskets on the aircraft.

An Indian military aircraft lands at Baghdad International Airport on April 1, 2018 to collect the bodies of 38 Indian construction workers who were captured and killed by ISIL in northern Iraq. Khalid Mohammed / AP Photo
An Indian military aircraft lands at Baghdad International Airport on April 1, 2018 to collect the bodies of 38 Indian construction workers who were captured and killed by ISIL in northern Iraq. Khalid Mohammed / AP Photo

ISIL abducted and killed the workers shortly after seizing the northern city of Mosul in the summer of 2014. Iraqi authorities discovered the remains in a mass grave last year after retaking Mosul, and positively identified the bodies last month.

The militants initially abducted 40 workers. One managed to escape, while the presumed remains of another have yet to be positively identified. Authorities are awaiting DNA samples from a relative.

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Most of the workers were from northern India and had been employed by a construction company operating near Mosul. About 10,000 Indians lived and worked in Iraq at the time. ISIL may have viewed the workers as polytheists deserving of death because of their Hindu or Sikh faith.

Dozens of mass graves have been found in areas held by the extremist group, which boasted about massacring its enemies and posted videos and photos of many of the mass killings online. Iraq has only managed to excavate a few of the sites because of a lack of funding and specialised staff.