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Kerala Priest Tom Uzhunnalil rescued from ISIS captivity
September 12, 2017, 4:43 pm

Kerala priest Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued from the captivity of the Islamic State. He was abducted from Yemen in 2016. Sources said the priest, who is currently in Muscat, will be flown to Kerala on Tuesday night. He was rescued after efforts by the Oman foreign ministry and Yemeni officials.

“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,” the Oman Observer reported.

Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj took to Twitter to announce the news.

Reports said Omani authorities "coordinated with Yemeni parties" to free Uzhunnalil, described as a "Vatican employee", at the request of the sultan.

Father Uzhunnalil was abducted in March 2016 by ISIS which attacked an old-age home, run by Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity, in southern Yemeni city of Aden. At least 15 people at the home were killed in the attack.

Earlier, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has spoken to various countries through which contacts could be established in Yemen since India does not have an Embassy of its own in the country.

"Abduction of Father Tom Uzhunnalil is a matter of grave concern for us. Yemen is a war-torn country. We do not have Embassy there but we are looking for ways to reach him. Not only me, but the PM during his overseas visits has spoken to various countries through which contacts can be established with Yemen," Swaraj had said.

In December last year, a video had surfaced where Father Tom appealed to Pope Francis and the Union government through a purported video to secure his release.

"If I were a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously. I am from India. I am perhaps not considered as of much value," said priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil in a weak voice in the video, aired by news channels in Kerala.

"Dear Pope Francis, dear Holy Father, as a father please take care of my life. I am very much depressed. My health is deteriorating," he said in the video, a day after Christmas.

Yemeni authorities have blamed the Islamic State group for last year's attack. Al-Qaeda, which is also active in the area, distanced itself from the mass shooting, saying that it was not involved.

The internationally recognised government in war-torn Yemen is grappling with both an Iran-backed rebellion and a growing jihadist presence.

Al-Qaeda and IS have stepped up attacks in Aden, targeting mainly loyalists and members of a Saudi-led coalition battling Huthi rebels and their allies.

President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi has declared Aden to be Yemen's temporary capital since Sanaa has been in the hands of rebels since September 2014.

Source: News18

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