Kerala CM expresses happiness over release of Vatican Priest Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil

Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala), September 12 : Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday has expressed happiness over the release of Father Tom Uzhunnalil, a Vatican priest hailing from India, who was abducted last year in Yemen.

Talking to the media here, Vijayan said, "Happy to hear about the release of Father Tom (Kerala priest)," adding, "it is learnt that Oman played a crucial role in his release." Further in his Facebook post, the Kerala Chief Minister informed that the Vatican priest is unwell and undergoing treatment in Oman.

Kerala will support him with his treatment and return to Kerala, he added. Confirming the news, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj tweeted, "I am happy to inform that Father Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued." Father Uzhunnalil was reportedly kidnapped in March 4, 2016 by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in Yemen, when they attacked a retirement home in Aden run by the Missionaries of Charity, killing sixteen people, including four nuns.

"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 a Vatican government employee.

He was transferred this morning to Muscat in preparation for his return home," the Oman Government said in a statement online, adding that he was tranferred to Muscat, from where he will be back to his home in Kerala.

"Tom Uzhunnalil, a Vatican priest, expressed thanks to God Almighty and appreciation to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos.

He also thanked his brothers and sisters and all relatives and friends who called on God for safety and release," the local media further reported.

The Indian government, last year, confirmed that efforts were underway to ensure that he is released. "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," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted back then.

Source: ANI