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Oman steps in to free Indian priest in Yemen


The Sultanate of Oman has secured the release of an Indian priest who was abducted last year during a deadly attack by militants in Yemen.

A statement issued in Muscat said, “in response to the Royal orders of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said and as per a request from the Vatican government, the authorities concerned in the Sultanate, in coordination with the Yemeni authorities, managed to find a Vatican government employee. He was transferred this morning to Muscat in preparation for his return home.”

Tom Uzhunnalil expressed his thanks to the Almighty. He also extended his thanks and appreciation to His Majesty the Sultan, praying to Almighty to grant him good health and well-being. He also thanked all his brothers, sisters, relatives and friends who prayed for his safety and release.

Uzhunnalil was pictured on Tuesday wearing Yemeni traditional dress and with a flowing but tidy white beard grown while in captivity.

Uzhunnalil was abducted in March 2016 when four unidentified gunmen attacked a care home in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden, killing four Indian nuns, two Yemeni female staff members, eight elderly residents and a guard.

“I am happy to inform that Father Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued,” India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj wrote on Twitter.

Oman has frequently helped facilitate the release of foreign nationals detained in Yemen.

Uzhunnalil was last seen appealing for help in a video recording carried by a Yemeni news website in May, saying his health was deteriorating and he needed hospitalisation.

ONA and Agencies