Kerala priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was abducted allegedly by ISIS militants in Yemen last year, has been rescued, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Tuesday.
“I am happy to inform that Father Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued,” she tweeted.
The release of the Indian Christian priest was reportedly secured by Oman, reported AFP.
Omani authorities coordinated with Yemeni parties to free Uzhunnalil, described as a “Vatican employee”, at the request of the sultan.
“Happy to hear about the release of Father Tom. It is learnt that Oman played a crucial role in his release,” said Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan expressing his happiness.
On March 22, Uzhunnalil completed a year in captivity in Yemen after being abducted in 2016.
The Union government had formed a team headed by external affairs secretary to secure his release from suspected rebel fighters.
In a video released on December 27, 2016, the priest had appealed Indian government and the church to intervene. He appeared weak and virtually begging for his life.
Father Tom was working as a priest at the Missionaries of Charity destitute home in the port city of Aden when he was taken away allegedly by the ISIS. Four nuns, including one from India, died in the attack.
A native of Ramapuram near Kottayam, he has been with the prominent Catholic congregation for the past 28 years.
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. Yemen 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, AFP reported.