Indian govt says it's working hard to free captive priest

Foreign minister tells Salesians that release of Father Tom Uzhunnalil is a top priority
Indian govt says it's working hard to free captive priest

A delegation of Indian Salesians pose for a photograph with foreign minister Sushma Swaraj after they met her to ask her help in the release of Salesian Father Thomas Uzhunnalil kidnapped in Yemen more than a year ago. (Photo: Bosco Information Service)

August 23, 2017
A Catholic priest kidnapped in Yemen last year is alive and could be released soon, a Salesian information service reported India's foreign minister as saying.

Sushma Swaraj made the comment during recent talks with a delegation from the Salesians of Don Bosco congregation, which asked her to ensure the swift release of fellow Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was kidnapped in Yemen more than a year ago.

The minister also reportedly told the group that securing his freedom was among the highest priorities of the government.

According to Indian Salesians' news portal, Bosco Information Service, the minister said she felt for the "unimaginable trauma and suffering" Father Uzhunnalil has endured.

Father Uzhunnalil was kidnapped March 4, 2016, after suspected Islamic terrorists attacked a home for the elderly run by Missionaries of Charity nuns in Yemen city of Aden.

Sixteen people, including four nuns, were shot dead and the priest, who was serving as the house chaplain, kidnapped.

The priest belongs to Salesians of Don Bosco's Bangalore province.

No group has claimed responsibility for kidnapping the priest, but Islamic militants are believed to be behind it.

Swaraj told the Salesians that the Indian government has made Father Uzhunnalil's release one of its highest priorities. She did not say what the government was doing to secure the priest's freedom.

In May, a video message was released in which a thin-looking Father Uzhunnalil begged Pope Francis to personally intervene and expressed frustration that the church had not done more to secure his freedom.

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