Vatican, FBI working to rescue Kerala Catholic priest in Yemen

Thiruvananthapuram, March 26 (IANS) The Vatican and the FBI are among those working hard to rescue Catholic priest Tom Uzhunnallil from Kerala who is currently in the custody of the Islamic State terrorist group in Yemen, an official said on Saturday.

A massive joint operation has been launched, with officials coordinating from various places, to see that the priest is rescued, an official who did not wish to be named told IANS.

“The Vatican, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Catholic church’s working groups in Jordan and Abu Dhabi, besides Indian Embassy officials in Djibouti along with Indians based in Yemen are all working hard to see that the priest is rescued,” the official said.

On Saturday morning, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted that they were trying to rescue Uzhunnallil.

“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,” she wrote.

Earlier this month, militants barged into a care home for the elderly set up by Mother Teresa in Yemen’s Aden in 1992, and shot dead many people, including four nuns of the Missionaries of Charity, among whom one was from India.

The militants abducted the Kerala priest and there has been no information about him ever since.

Uzhunnalil’s ancestral home in Ramapuram in Kottayam district is presently closed as two of his brothers live abroad, while another lives in Gujarat.

The brother from Gujarat has reached Ramapuram after hearing news of the abduction.

His relatives said they were in contact with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy who regularly keeps in touch with Sushma Swaraj.

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