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Abducted Father Tom Uzhunnalil Released: Reports

Dubai: Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was abducted by terrorists from Aden in Yemen, has been released. He was rescued with the help of the Oman Government, according to reports.

Oman Observer reported that Father Tom Uzhunnalil aka Father Thomas was brought to Muscat from Yemen and he will be sent to Kerala at the earliest.

Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj‏ confirmed the news on her Twitter account. “I am happy to inform that Father Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued,” she tweeted.

Armed IS fighters allegedly kidnapped Uzhunnalil, 57, on March 4 last year from a home for the elderly in Aden where he worked. Sixteen people, including four nuns from the Missionaries of Charity, were killed in the incident.

He had appeared even more frail and sickly than earlier in his last video appeal for release, issued in May. Uzhunnalil belongs to the Salesians of Don Bosco mission, Bangalore province.

In the video released in May, Uzhunnalil pleaded for help as his health was failing and appealed to his family to do what they could to get him freed. Speaking slowly in English, he had lamented: “Neither the bishops nor the Indian Government had asked them (his captors) what they want.”

In an earlier video last December, Uzhunnalil had appealed to Pope Francis and bishops all over the world to get him released. Two more such videos had been released before that.

A native of Ramapuram in Kerala’s Kottayam, Uzhunnalil joined the Salecian order in 1979 and has since worked at several of its centres. He went to Aden in April 2015 on a request by the Missionaries of Charity.