The Islamic State group has kidnapped more than 70 family members of Iraq's Sunni defense minister from their homes in the Mosul area. Reports of the number of victims, who are related to Iraqi Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi, a Sunni, range as high as 78.
The Sunni militant group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, captured the people throughout Sunday and is holding them at its base camp in the northern town, according to Ismat Rajab, an official in Mosul with the Kurdistan Democratic Party.
The group has yet to issue any demands in exchange for their release.
Obeidi was appointed defense minister last month by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a Shiite. In his first public speech, Obeidi pledged that Iraqi security forces would take back all the land it lost to ISIS, especially Mosul.
“We are committed to the liberation of the provinces that have fallen under ISIS control and securing the return of refugees to their homes, securing peace and stability for our country,” Obeidi said in his televised speech.
The kidnappings Sunday could have been in retaliation to the killing of the ISIS governor of Mosul last Thursday. The ISIS leader, known as Radhwan Hamdouni, or Abu Leith, was killed in a coalition airstrike, Rudaw reported.
Following the kidnappings, at least 33 ISIS militants were killed in Mosul and the surrounding area.
International Business Times has reported several instances of ISIS kidnapping children and training them in camps in Syria and Iraq, but there is not an exact tally of the number of people who have been kidnapped by ISIS since the militant group started its march toward Baghdad in June.