New Delhi: Father Tom Uzhunnalil, a Catholic priest from Kerala, who was rescued from ISIS captivity in Yemen, has reached India. He was abducted by Islamic State terrorists 18 months ago during a deadly attack on a care home run by Mother Teresas Missionaries of Charity in the port city of Aden. At least 15 people at the old-age home were killed in the attack.
“I am happy to inform that Father Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj Swaraj had said in a tweet while informing, later in the evening on Tuesday, that Father Father Uzhunnalil had reached Vatican.
Earlier in the day, Omans official news agency ONA reported that Oman in coordination with the “Yemeni parties” had managed to find Father Uzhunnalil and that he has been moved to Muscat, PTI reported.
It said Uzhunnalil thanked God and appreciated Omans Sultan Qaboos bin Said. He also thanked his brothers and sisters and all relatives and friends who prayed for his safety and release.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the release of Uzhunnalil was heartening. “The intervention of Oman had paved the way for his release, I understand,” he said in a Facebook post. All help will be provided to enable him reach Kerala and for his further treatment, he added.
Catholic Bishops Conference of India President and Major Archbishop of Syro Malankara church Baselious Cardinal Cleemis Catholicos and Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, CBCI Secretary General said the church was grateful to the government of India and all concerned for the steps taken to secure his release.
A video of Uzhunnalil had surfaced in December last year in which he appealed to the government to free him.
In the clip, Uzhunnalil was seen saying, “If I were a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously. I am from India. I am perhaps not considered of much value.”
In July, Swaraj had taken up the the issue of Uzhunnalils abduction with the Deputy Prime Minister of Yemen and requested him to secure the release of the priest.
Last year, Swaraj had said Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has spoken to various countries so that the the priest could be released.
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