An Indian priest abducted by ISIS militants in Yemen last month is safe and could be released soon, said a Catholic group on Sunday, quoting EAM Sushma Swaraj.
Father Tom Uzhunnalil was captured from the southern Yemeni city of Aden by gunmen who killed at least 15 people at an old people’s home in an attack that was condemned by Pope Francis.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) said a delegation met foreign minister Sushma Swaraj who said the government was working to secure the priest’s safe return.
“She has assured us Father Tom is safe and negotiations are on for his release which could happen very soon,” said Father Joseph Chinnaiyan, deputy secretary of the CBCI.
Media reports last week said the priest was killed by Islamic State militants on Good Friday, although no one has claimed responsibility for last month’s attack in which gunmen killed four Indian nuns, two Yemeni female staff members, eight elderly residents and a guard.
Uzhunnalil had gone missing in Yemen after the Islamic State militant group attacked a care home run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.
“Yemen is a conflict zone. We do not have Embassy there. But we will spare no efforts to rescue Father Tom Uzhunnalil,” Swaraj had tweeted earlier.
Gunmen had stormed the refuge for the elderly earlier this month and killed a Yemeni guard before tying up and shooting 15 other employees.
Aden has been racked by lawlessness since Hadi supporters, backed by Gulf Arab military forces, drove fighters of the Iran-allied Houthi group from the city in July last year.
International aid groups have pulled most of their foreign staff from Yemen due to security concerns.
(With agencies input)