Iraqi official Najiha Abdul-Amir al-Shimari confirmed on Tuesday that the 39 Indians who were kidnapped and killed in Iraq were murdered by the Islamic State terrorist organisation, AP reported.

Their murder was a “heinous crime carried out by Daesh terrorist gangs”, said al-Shimari, the head of Iraq’s Martyrs Establishment, a government body that deals with matters related to people killed in the country’s fight against the Islamic State group. Daesh is the Arabic acronym for the terror group.

The people killed were “citizens of the friendly Indian state”, al-Shimari said. “Their dignity was supposed to be protected, but the forces of evil wanted to defame the principles of Islam.”

On Tuesday afternoon, India’s Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj told Parliament that the government had confirmed that the 39 Indians who went missing in Iraq in 2014 had been killed.

“Deep penetration radar confirmed that all Indians were dead after the bodies were exhumed and DNA analysis was completed for all 39 bodies,” she said. Their bodies were found buried near the village of Badush, northwest of Mosul, in an area that Iraqi forces recaptured last July.

In June 2014, Islamic State militants had abducted 40 Indian labourers from a construction site near Mosul. Most of the victims were from low-income families in Punjab. One youth, identified as Harjit Masih, had managed to return to India. Thousands of Indians worked and lived in Iraq before the Islamic State group took over major parts in the north and west in 2014.

“It is, indeed, a moment of deep grief and sadness for us,” Indian Ambassador to Iraq Pradeep Singh Rajpurohit said in Baghdad. “India strongly condemns terrorism in all forms and manifestations and stands in solidarity with the government and the people of Iraq in their fight against terrorism.”

Rajpurohit added that the bodies will be sent to India in “a couple of weeks”. Swaraj told Parliament on Tuesday that Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh will bring the bodies back from Iraq.