Kidnapped Indian priest freed after 18 months of captivity

An Indian priest kidnapped after an attack on a care home in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden in 2016 has been freed and flown to Oman, the government has revealed.

Father Tom Uzhunnalil was abducted in March 2016 when four gunmen posing as relatives of one of the residents at the home burst inside, killing four Indian nuns, two Yemeni female staff members, eight elderly residents and a guard.

The Sultanate helped to find and rescue the Vatican employee, the government said.

“In response to the Royal Orders of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said and as per a request from the Vatican to assist in the rescuing of a Vatican employee, the concerned authorities in the Sultanate, in coordination with the Yemeni authorities, have managed to find a Vatican government employee. He was transferred this morning to Muscat in preparation for his return home,” the government said in a statement online.

Tom Uzhunnalil expressed his thanks to God Almighty and to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, and wished him good health and wellness. He also thanked his brothers, sisters and all relatives and friends who prayed for his safety and release,” the statement added.

In May, a video of the Indian priest was posted online and he was seen to be in poor health, calling for help.

“They are treating me well to the extent they are able,” the white-bearded Uzhunnalil said, speaking slowly in English.

“My health condition is deteriorating quickly and I require hospitalisation as early as possible,” he added in the recording.

The date April 15, 2017 was written on a piece of cardboard pasted on his body.

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