Kidnapped priest Fr Thomas Uzhunnalil set free

Kidnapped priest Fr Thomas Uzhunnalil set free

Kidnapped priest Fr Thomas Uzhunnalil set free

The government of Oman played a key role in freeing Father Tom Uzhunnalil, a Catholic priest from India who was kidnapped by Islamic State-linked terrorists in Yemen a year ago, according to a media report.

The news of the Salesian's release was officially announced September 12 by Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj in a tweet that read: "I am happy to inform that Fr Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued".

Oman Observer quoting state-run Oman News Agency said, "Father Tom expressed thanks to God Almighty, appreciation to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos and everyone who prayed for his safe release".

The Central Government has sought the help of certain Arab countries for releasing Fr Tom Uzhunnalil.

Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj‏ confirmed the news on her Twitter account. In a video clip aired by Aden Times in April 2017, the 58-year-old urged to the concerned authorities of India to rescue him saying that his health was deteriorating rapidly. Four nuns and 12 others were killed in the terrorist attack.

Reports said he was freed following Oman government's intervention.

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According to reports, Uzhunnali is presently in Oman, and will be flown back to Kerala in India later on Tuesday.

"He was transferred this morning to Muscat in preparation for his return home". Uzhunnalil belongs to Ramapuram village in Kerala's Kottayam district.

Muscat said it had secured his release.

When the situation in Yemen began to deteriorate, two of the five Salesians, including Father Uzhunnalil, made a decision to stay in the country along with a handful of other Catholics despite the risks to their safety, Salesian Father Francesco Cereda, vicar of the order's superior, told AsiaNews March 10, 2016.

Recalling the Catholic church representatives' August 17 meeting with Swaraj in New Delhi, he said the minister had assured them that the government had given "first priority" for securing the release of the priest.

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