New Delhi: Father Tom Uzhunnalil who was abducted in March 2016 from Yemen by the terrorist outfit of Islamic State has been rescued after spending nearly 17 months in captivity. Father Uzhunnalil who hails from Kerala is currently said to be in Muscat and is expected to be flown into the country on Tuesday night.
Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj announced the news on Twitter stating, “I am happy to inform that Father Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued.” An outpouring of greetings and appreciation ensued quickly afterward from well wishers and politicians.
Father Tom Uzhunnalil, 58, was reportedly rescued by the collective efforts of Yemeni officials and The Oman Foreign Ministry. He was reportedly described as a ‘Vatican Employee’ and was rescued upon a request by the Sultan.
According to the Oman Observer, “Tom Uzhunnalil expressed thanks to God Almighty and appreciation to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos. He also thanked his brothers and sisters and all relatives and friends who called on God for safety and release.”
Indian Catholic priest Father Uzhunnalil had made several video appeals asking for urgent help from the Indian authorities as well as Pope Francis. He said that his health was deteriorating rapidly and he was in need of immediate hospitalization.
Father Uzhunnalil was sent to Yemen back in 2010. When his tenure expired, he was asked by his church to stay back until someone else was sent to take over the duties from him, according to a statement by the treasurer of Uzhunnalil Kudumbayogam.
The Catholic priest had gone missing in 2016 when terrorists attacked a care home for the elderly in Aden which was run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. They had stormed the facility and killed a Yemeni security and then proceeded to tie up and kill 15 other employees. The deceased included four foreign nuns which included an Indian who were working at the care home as nurses. The killing was condemned all across the world