Yemen’s Deputy Prime Minister has announced that Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, a priest kidnapped by extremists in Yemen in March 2016, is still alive. Extremists, thought to be connected to ISIS, stormed a home for the sick and elderly in March 2016 where they killed four nuns and kidnapped Fr. Tom. Since then, two separate videos of Fr. Tom have been released calling on the Church and Indian government to negotiate for his release. Will India be able to secure Fr. Tom’s release?
07/14/2017 India (Asia News) – Abdulmalik Abduljalil Al-Mekhlafi, Yemen’s deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister, during a visit to India announced that Father Tom Uzhunnalil, the Salesian kidnapped in Yemen in March 2016, is still alive.
In a meeting with his Indian counterpart, Sushma Swaraj, he assured the Indian government that his government would do everything to obtain his release.
Father Tom has been in the hands of his kidnappers for more than a year. Occasionally, reports about his health have been leaked to the press. The latest on 8 May shows the Salesian in a second video in which he calls for his release and warns that his health was “worsening quickly”.
In a first video posted over the Christmas holidays on 26 December 2016, the clergyman appealed to Pope Francis for his release. He also said – perhaps under duress – that he had been “forgotten” by civil and Church authorities and needed treatment.
Fr Tom, a native of Kerala (southern India), has been a prisoner of a jihadist group since 4 March 2016. His abductors, probably linked to the Islamic State, stormed a home for the sick and elderly run by the Missionaries of Charity in Aden, southern Yemen.
Four sisters of Mother Teresa and other 12 people inside the facility were killed in the attack. The only survivor in the religiously motivated attack was Sister Sally, the home’s superior, who was away at the time.