Photo of Father Tom, Feared Captured By ISIS in Yemen, Emerges
His family is relieved and efforts towards his release are in progress.
Months after he was feared abducted by ISIS or another terror group in Yemen, a picture of Father Tom Uzhunnalil, a Catholic priest who hails from Kerala, has been posted on Facebook.
Though the priest had gone missing in March this year, the government had insisted that he was safe. While it is unclear who posted the photo on Facebook, the status claims that an ‘Entreaty’ or plea would be uploaded soon.
The photo shows the once clean-shaven priest, now looking weary and tired, with a long beard.
Many people in the family have checked the picture and feel it is Father Uzhunnalil’s. This is the first time such a picture has come. The only solace is that we know he is alive.Augustine, Relative
Augustine also said that the government had told them it was unsure about who to hold talks with in Yemen.
“There is no government there and so our government is finding it tough to hold talks. We don’t believe he has been taken away by Islamic State, but perhaps by a smaller group. The caption on the picture says his plea would be posted soon, waiting for that,” he added.
Tom Uzhunnalil had gone missing in Yemen after the Islamic State militant group attacked a care home run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.
Gunmen had stormed the refuge for the elderly earlier in April and killed a Yemeni guard before tying up and shooting 15 other employees. Four foreign nuns – including one Indian – working as nurses were among those killed. Father Tom was captured from the southern Yemeni city of Aden.
Following reports that the priest was dead, Father Gyanprakash Topno, spokesman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), along with a five-member delegation, met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who strongly refuted reports that the priest was dead.
“Father Tom is safe and efforts are on for his release as early as possible,” Topno said, quoting the minister who also told the delegation that the “government will facilitate the priest’s safe return to India”.
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