Father Tom Uzhunnalil, the Kerala priest who was kidnapped from an old-age home run by Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity in the southern city of Aden in Yemen in 2016, has been rescued.
The catholic priest, who hails from Kerala, will be flown back to his hometown Kottayam in Kerala soon. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj confirmed the news via her Twitter handle. The Oman government has also claimed that the Sultanate helped to find and rescue Uzhunnalil.
"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, the Times of Oman reported.
According to Daily Hunt, a ransom of Rs 64 crore was also paid to the Islamic militants for Uzhunnalil's release. The reports of ransom have not been confirmed.
"I am happy to inform that Father Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had also tweeted on Tuesday.
It was on March 5, 2016, when Swaraj had tweeted about the abduction of the priest by ISIS terrorists in Yemen.
"Father Tom Uzhunnalil - an Indian national has been abducted by terrorists in Yemen."
A few months later, a video surfaced online showing a blindfolded person, said to be Fr Tom, being tortured by a group of unidentified people.
Also, some of his Facebook friends received a message from his social media account apparently sent by his "Yemeni friend."
A Facebook user named Xavier kp received this message on July 19 from the priest's social media account.
"Fr Tom Uzhunnalil still kidnapped and he is not all right, I think he's in trouble and getting bad treatment, no news about him. I am one of his friends in Yemen, 'yemeni friend', he wants me to use his account to ask for help, and to show that Indian government lies, they said he's going to be released soon [sic]."
Another video of the priest hit cyber space in December 2016, in which he is heard making an appeal to the Indian government and Pope Francis to save him.
"Honourable prime minister and president of India, I'm deeply saddened as no serious action has been taken to ensure my release. Honourable prime minister and president of India, I'm deeply saddened as no serious action has been taken to ensure my release. Honourable prime minister and president of India, I'm deeply saddened as no serious action has been taken to ensure my release," he is heard saying in the video that was uploaded to YouTube on Christmas Eve.