External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj announced on Twitter on Tuesday that Father Tom Uzhunnalil who had been taken hostage by ISIS forces in Yemen had been rescued after 17 months of captivity.
Father Tom, 57, born to Mathew Uzhunnalil and Theresa, belongs to Ramapuram in Kottayam, Kerala. A priest and part of the Bangalore diocese of the Salesians of Don Bosco, he was serving on a priesthood visa in Yemen since 2010. He has 30 years of experience of serving in the dioceses in Bengaluru, Kolar and other places in Karnataka.
He returned to India only for a brief duration in 2015. He went bank to Yemen in times of conflict in the Middle East and when the Indian government had advised Indian nationals against travelling to the region.
In 2015, Father Tom staying at an old age home in Yemen run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. The same old age home was attacked on March 4, 2016 when at least four armed men barged in and killed a number of people, according to reports, including nuns, local Yemenis and some Ethiopians. Father Tom was abducted after the attack. He had sought asylum at the old age home after his residence was destroyed during the civil war.
He was rescued recently after apparently the intervention of the Oman government.
Swaraj tweeted on Tuesday confirming his rescue: I am happy to inform that Fr Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued.”