An Indian missionary, held captive for 18 months after being captured by Islamic radicals, is now free and in Rome, the Vatican has confirmed.
Terrorists kidnapped Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil in an attack on a Missionaries of Charity convent in Aden, Yemen. He was taken alive, but the ambush left at least 16 people dead, including four sisters — members of Mother Teresa’s religious order. Rumors persisted that Fr. Tom has been crucified and killed by ISIS militants, but the captured priest appeared in a propaganda video some weeks later.
Since then, the Vatican, in concert with India’s government and, particularly, India’s bishops, has been advocating for Fr. Tom’s release and return to his homeland of India. Tuesday evening it appeared their efforts had finally borne fruit when Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj Tweeted, “I am happy to inform that Fr Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued.”
The Vatican confirmed Fr. Tom’s release in a statement Wednesday morning, noting that rescuing Fr. Tom was a multi-national effort that even involved the Sultan of Oman and Yemeni authorities.
“This morning, the Rev. Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, S.D.B., was freed after being kidnapped on March 4, 2016 in Yemen.