Indian government promises to find kidnapped priest

Tuesday 8 March 2016
UCAN India

THE INDIAN government has promised to help rescue a missing Salesian priest and a Missionaries of Charity nun stranded in Yemen after suspected Islamic terrorists stormed a church center killing 16 people, including four nuns.

India's foreign minister Sushma Swaraj said the government will ‘spare no efforts’ to rescue Salesian Father Thomas Uzhunnalil, who has been missing since the 4 March attack on the home for the elderly operated by the Missionaries of Charity in Aden.

‘Yemen is a conflict zone. We do not have embassy there. But we will spare no efforts to rescue Father Tom Uzhunnalil,’ Swaraj said in a post on Twitter.

The murdered nuns include two Rwandans and one each from India and Kenya. The house superior, Sister Sally, managed to escape, while Salesians in India said Father Uzhunnalil was kidnapped by gunmen.

‘I have spoken to Sister Sally. She is safe and will be evacuated today,’ Swaraj tweeted.

The government is also trying to trace the missing priest, said Father Mathew Valarkot, spokesman for the Salesians' Bangalore province. ‘We are now almost sure that he was kidnapped, but not sure of the motives,’ he said.

The Salesians have one other priest in Yemen, who is ‘in a safer location,’ Father Valarkot told ucanews.com.

The priest said the mission falls under the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia, where some 100 priests from various congregations serve a mostly expatriate community of Catholics. Since a civil war broke out last year, most of the mission has been abandoned, he said.

Father Valarkot said the nuns will be buried in Yemen, with priests there making the funeral arrangements. ‘But travel is restricted because of security concerns,’ he said.

 
 
Photos: UCAN and CNS

Indian military guard the nursing home in Yemen where the massacre took place.
Survivors of the attack are seen in the dining hall and in a room for elderly care.
A pro-government militant inspects a room filled with blood after it was attacked by gunmen.
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