An Indian priest, who was abducted by radical Islamist terrorists in Yemen last year, has finally been freed, thanks to an intervention by Oman.
Father Tom Uzhunnallil, a Catholic priest from Kerala, was held captive for over a year and a half after terrorists attacked at a nursing home run by Missionaries of Charity in the city of Aden.
Uzhunnallil had last appeared in a video clip that was circulated online, in which he was seen appealing to the Indian government and the Vatican for his freedom.
With extremist groups like Al-Qaeda and IS having set their bases in Yemen, it is a near miracle that he has made it out alive.
While India’s external affairs ministry exhausted every contact and resource it had to trace the priest, it was a representative from the Vatican who sought an audience with the King of Oman that fast-tracked the mission to rescue the priest.
According to the local daily Manorama, a statement was released by the Sultanate of Oman that shed light over what went behind the entire process.
“In response to the Royal Orders of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said and as per a request from the Vatican to assist in the rescuing of a Vatican employee, the concerned authorities in the Sultanate, in coordination with the Yemeni authorities, have managed to find the Vatican government employee. He was transferred this morning to Muscat in preparation for his return home,” it said.
A native of Ramapuram in Kottayam district, Uzhunnallil was brought to Muscat, which is the capital of Oman, on Tuesday morning. Though a little weak, the priest is in good health. Shortly after, he left for Rome to seek an audience with the Pope in Vatican on a Royal Oman Air Force aircraft.
“I wish first and foremost to thank God almighty for this day,” Uzhunnallil said before thanking Sultan Qaboos, and those who prayed for his release reports New Indian Express.
The priest is expected to return to Kerala in a few days.