Father Tom Uzhunnallil abducted in 2016 by the Islamic State terrorists in warn-torn Yemen has been rescued from an undisclosed location after 17 months with the help of Oman government's intervention.
I am happy to inform that Father Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued.pic.twitter.com/FwAYoTkbj2
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) September 12, 2017
According to media reports, the priest who was abducted from Yemen's port city Aden, has been transferred to Muscat and will be flown to his home in Kerala on Tuesday. According to IANS, the Gulf nation helped to find and rescue Uzhannalil, who is an employee of the Vatican.
The Times of Oman quoted the Oman government as saying, "In response to the royal orders of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said and as per a request from the Vatican... the concerned authorities in the Sultanate, in coordination with the Yemeni authorities, have managed to find a Vatican government employee. He was transferred this (Tuesday) morning to Muscat in preparation for his return home,"
According to Oman Observer, Qaboos bin Said, Sultan of Oman, with the help of Yemeni parties managed to find the priest and secure his release. The report further added that Uzhunnalil also thanked all the people involved in his rescue, including his relatives and friends who prayed for his safety.
Father Tom rescued from Yemen after 17 months. He is in Muscat right now and will be flown to Vatican, @Zakka_Jacob with more details pic.twitter.com/ms6wpVamrq — News18 (@CNNnews18) September 12, 2017
Several leaders in Kerala also hailed the news of Uzhunnalil's rescue including state's chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and former chief minister Oommen Chandy. Chandy was quoted as saying by Times Now, "We were waiting for the day. We are very thankful to Sushma Swaraj and all the others who worked towards his release."
Uzhunnalil, who hails from Kottayam in Kerala was abducted in March last year by the Islamic State terror group, which attacked the old-age home run by Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity including four nuns and an Indian. After the shooting, they abducted Uzhunnallil.
Uzhunnalil, had been sent to Yemen in 2010, however, when his five-year term in the country ended, the church "asked him to stay back till another person assumed the charges," treasurer of Uzhunnalil Kudumbayogam was quoted as saying by The Times Of India.
Earlier on 12 July, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had held extensive talks with the deputy prime minister of Yemen Abdulmalik Abduljalil Al-Mekhlafi during which she conveyed India's concern over the safety of Father Tom Uzhunnalil.
Earlier in a video posted on Yemeni news portal Aden-TM, Uzhunnalil had spoken about his deteriorating health condition. He was quoted as saying, "They are treating me well to the extent they are able."
"My health condition is deteriorating quickly and I require hospitalisation as early as possible,"
Uzhunnalil said his kidnappers had contacted the Indian government and the Catholic bishop in Abu Dhabi with their demands, but the response was "not encouraging".
In December 2016, the priest, in a video, had appealed to the Indian government and Pope Francis to secure his release from his captors.
In the earlier video, Uzhunnalil said that there have been reports in the media that everything was being done to secure his release "but in reality, nothing seems to have happened".
Uzhunnalil's ancestral home in Ramapuram in Kottayam district is presently shut as two of his brothers live abroad, while another lives in Gujarat.
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