Priest thank­ful, even to ab­duc­tors, af­ter re­lease from Ye­men

Oman Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

ROME: An In­dian priest kid­napped last year dur­ing a deadly at­tack by mil­i­tants in Ye­men thanked on Saturday all those in­volved in his re­lease, and even had a kind word for his ab­duc­tors for not harm­ing him.

“I thank in the name of the Lord God even my keep­ers, who have been un­der­stand­ing to me and who have not hurt me. It’s God’s in­ter­ven­tion,” an emo­tional Thomas Uzhun­nalil, 59, said af­ter emerg­ing from 18 months in cap­tiv­ity.

“The best weapon against any en­emy is love and prayer,” Uzhun­nalil said at a press con­fer­ence in Rome af­ter an in­ter­ven­tion by the au­thor­i­ties in Oman to se­cure his re­lease.

He was ab­ducted in March 2016 dur­ing an at­tack on a care home op­er­ated by mis­sion­ar­ies in the south­ern port city of Aden which killed 16 peo­ple, in­clud­ing four nuns.

Mus­cat said on Tues­day that it had “co­or­di­nated with Ye­meni par­ties” to me­di­ate the re­lease of Uzhun­nalil, a Sale­sian priest who had last ap­peared in a video cir­cu­lated on­line in De­cem­ber 2016, in which he ap­pealed to In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and Pope Fran­cis to se­cure his re­lease.

The Vatican has said that Uzhun­nalil, a di­a­betic who lost 30 ki­los dur­ing his or­deal, will spend time re­cu­per­at­ing in Rome af­ter a med­i­cal check-up.

He met on Wed­nes­day with Pope Fran­cis, who had de­scribed the Aden at­tack as “sense­less and di­a­bol­i­cal”.

Ye­meni au­thor­i­ties blamed the IS group for last year’s at­tack, though no group has yet claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the ab­duc­tion.

Al-Qaeda, which is also ac­tive in the area, has ap­peared to dis­tance it­self from the mass shoot­ing, say­ing it was not in­volved.


Fr Tom Uzhun­nalil re­acts dur­ing a press con­fer­ence on Saturday in Rome.

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