Indian priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was kidnapped in Yemen, is "safe" and the ministry of external affairs is trying to ensure his speedy return, Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) spokesman quoted External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj as saying, according to the Press Trust of India. He was abducted from a retirement home run by Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity, where ISIS gunmen had reportedly launched an attack last month.

While various media reports said that Uzhunnalil was crucified March 25, Good Friday, officials of the Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco Church, to which he belonged, had dismissed the reports. The officials had said that the reports were "fake."

"Father Tom is safe and efforts are on for his release as early as possible," Father Gyanprakash Topno, spokesman of CBCI, told PTI quoting Swaraj. She also told the delegation that "government will facilitate the priest's safe return to India."

The delegation from the CBCI had met Swaraj Saturday after the issue went viral on social media.

Congress member Manish Tewari had slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party March 29 for failing to take action to save the priest.

"So ISIS allegedly crucified Father Thomas Uzhunnali &BJP Govt did nothing. Why because he was a Christian?Mr PM he was also a fellow Indian (sic)," Tewari had tweeted.

Uzhunnalil who worked with the Bangalore centre of the church was from Kerala. He was kidnapped March 4 from the retirement home, where 16 people, including an Indian nun working as a nurse, were killed.

The Bangalore and Kottayam centres of the church were unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts to contact them.

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