New Delhi : The Centre on Saturday said it was trying to secure the release of Father Tom Uzhunnallil, who was kidnapped by militants from a Missionaries of Charity home in Yemen.
“Fr Tom Uzhunnallil – an Indian national from Kerala was abducted by a terror group in Yemen. We r making all efforts to secure his release (sic),” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj posted on Twitter.
Uzhunnallil hails from Kerala and worked in Bengaluru before leaving for Yemen. He was kidnapped on March 4 when Islamic State militants stormed the home for the elderly and disabled run by the Missionaries of Charity at Aden in war-torn Yemen.
The terrorists killed 12 people, including four nuns. One of the nuns, Cecilia Minz, was from India.
The terrorists tied the nuns and others to trees and shot them in their heads. Sister Sally, the sole survivor of the attack, later reported that the terrorists had taken 56-year-old Uzhunnallil with them.
Franciscan Sisters of Siessen, which is based in South Africa, earlier this week posted on Facebook that the kidnapped priest might be crucified by the IS on the occasion of Good Friday. This triggered concerns about his fate.
New Delhi, however, received no information indicating any imminent threat to Uzhunnallil’s life, sources said on Saturday.
What has made efforts to rescue Uzhunnallil all the more difficult is that India no longer has a diplomatic mission in Yemen, which has been ravaged by a conflict since early 2015 when Saudi Arabia started air strikes to support forces and militias loyal to deposed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in their fight against rebel Houthis.
India, in April 2015, shifted its embassy in Sanaa to neighbouring Djibouti. The Centre deployed warships, merchant vessels and planes to evacuate altogether 4,741 Indians from Yemen.