Indian Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was kidnapped in Yemen more than a year ago, is seen in a screen grab from a YouTube video. CNS photo

Yemen's foreign minister says kidnapped Salesian is still alive

  • July 12, 2017

NEW DELHI – Yemen's foreign minister told Indian officials that Salesian Father Thomas Uzhunnalil, kidnapped in Yemen last year, is still alive, and efforts to trace him continue. reported that, during a visit to New Delhi, Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdulmalik Abduljalil Al-Mekhlafi gave his reassurances in a meeting with the Indian external affairs July 10, said an Indian government statement. It said Father Uzhunnalil is "alive, and the Yemeni government has been making all efforts to secure his release." It said al-Mekhlafi "assured all cooperation in this regard."

The priest was kidnapped March 4, 2016, after suspected Islamic terrorists stormed a home for elderly people managed by the Missionaries of Charity nuns in the port city of Aden. The assailants shot dead 16 people, including four nuns, before kidnapping the priest, who served as chaplain of the house.

Father Uzhunnalil belongs to Salesians of Don Bosco's Bangalore province. He had been working as a missionary under Bishop Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar of Southern Arabia.

Church officials said they had not received any demands for ransom in the last year and were unaware about the motive or identity of the kidnappers, making their role in the rescue effort impossible.

Amid rumours of torture by Islamic militants, two videos have appeared on social media in which the priest sought the help of the church and Indian officials, reported.

The first video requested the church maintain its efforts to secure his release without specifying any specific action. In the second, the priest said his captors had contacted the Indian authorities "several times" and the replies, which he said he had seen, were "very, very poor."

"They also contacted the bishop of Abu Dhabi," he said. "There, too, the response was not encouraging. Neither the bishop nor the Indian government authorities asked them what they really want to get me released. It is a poor response, and I am sad about that."

Asking his family and friends to pressure the authorities, he said, "Please, please, do what you can to get me released. May God bless you for that."

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.