The Indian government has started the process of collecting DNA samples of the families of 39 missing nationals who were believed to have been captured by ISIS militants in Mosul, Iraq more than three years ago, officials and local media said on Sunday.
Of the 40 Indian nationals were believed to have been abducted by the militants in 2014, 25 out of 39 belong to the northern state of Punjab, and were working at a construction site near Mosul. One has claimed to have escaped.
Harjeet Masih said the militants gunned down the rest of the abducted people. The Indian government has denied his claims. “We have received a communication from the government of India to collect the DNA samples of 25 missing people who are residents of Punjab,” Rajiv Bhalla, director of the Punjab health department said.
“The collection of samples of the family members is on.”
Previously, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said in the Indian parliament that the “government won’t end the search for our missing citizens until we have proof they are not alive.”
A report by the Indian Express newspaper on Sunday said that the samples would be sent to Iraq and Syria “to be matched with people captured from fallen [ISIS] bastions such as [Raqqa], as well as with bodies recovered during combing operations.”
In July, Iraqi forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition, dislodged ISIS from Mosul.