An order of Catholic priests called the Salesians’ of Don Bosco Friday dismissed as rumours reports that claimed that one of their priests, who was kidnapped in Yemen earlier this month, would be tortured on Good Friday. A spokesman for the order’s Bangalore province said such reports were unsubstantiated and they could not ascertain their source.
Over the past week, reports that the Islamic State (IS) had kidnapped Fr Uzhunnalil (56) were doing rounds on the Internet. The reports claimed that the terror outfit would torture and crucify him on Good Friday.
“Fr Uzhunnalil has been missing since March 4 and since then we have no information from credible sources and no group has so far claimed responsibility for this crime. These rumours having been going on for quite some time. We don’t subscribe to any of them,” spokesman for Salesians’ of Don Bosco, Bangalore province, Fr Mathew Valarkot said Friday. Fr Tom Uzhunnalil was a part of Bangalore province of the order.
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“We are not going by false rumours where the origins are unverifiable,” Fr Valarkot said. “There is, naturally, anxiety with regard to his whereabouts…We have requested the government to trace him out and they have promised to help,’’ he said.
Fr Uzhunnalil was reportedly kidnapped on March 4 after four gunmen attacked a retirement home in Aden run by the Missionaries of Charity. Sixteen people, including four nuns, were killed in the attack. Fr Uzhunnalil was reportedly kidnapped during the attack, suspected to have been carried out by IS terrorists.
The rumours of his impending torture reportedly started spreading after Franciscan Sisters of Siessen, based in South Africa, posted on Facebook that he was going to be tortured and crucified. Fr Uzhunnalil had returned to India in February last year after trouble broke out in Yemen. In April, he volunteered to return, arguing that he was familiar with Yemen.