Indian Christian Priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil, kidnapped in war-torn Yemen by extremist groups last year, was released on Tuesday, September 13. Yemen is in the midst of a Civil War, between the Houthi rebels and forces of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.
The priest was taken to Muscat and then to Vatican. During his 18 months in captivity, he made multiple appeals to the Indian government as well as Pope Francis. In video, he even complained that had he been a European priest, he would have been taken more seriously by the authorities.
Ministry of External Affairs made several statements over the past year on the government’s efforts to secure Father Tom’s release as they had done in other cases, including the one in Afghanistan. “I am happy to inform that Father Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued,” Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj tweeted on Tuesday.
The priest was allegedly abducted by Islamic State operative in March 2016, from an old-age home run by Mother Teresa’s Missionary of Charity in the southern city of Aden. Father Tom had reportedly volunteered to stay back and serve at the home, even as others were evacuated following the civil war.The priest’s rescue was secured with the help of Oman’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in coordination with Yemeni authorities. The priest hails from Ramapuram in Kottayam, Kerala where he was due to return. Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as the EAM Swaraj.