Friday, 29 July 2016

3 Men in Indian Priest Abduction Case Arrested, Reports Claim They Are Al Qaeda

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Three Men Arrested in Kerala Priest Abduction Case in Yemen

Updated: July 29, 2016

New Delhi: Three men allegedly involved in the abduction of Keralite priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil and carrying out an attack on a care home for the elderly killing an Indian and 15 others in Yemen's port city of Aden, were arrested in the strife-torn country. They were caught from Saila province near Aden in Yemen.

"Based on information that we have received from our Embassy in Djibouti, it appears that the information is correct," official sources said when asked about reports that suspected terrorists involved in the two cases were captured. They said there was no information available yet on the whereabouts of Father Uzhunnalil, adding the Indian Mission continues to work with the local authorities to ascertain information on him.

The priest, who hails from Kerala, had gone missing after the Islamic State militant group attacked the care home run by Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. One Indian nurse and 15 others were killed in the attack on the care home in Aden city on March 4.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said last week that efforts were on to secure release of the priest. The Indian Embassy in Yemen's capital Sana'a was closed last year following widespread violence. The embassy's functions are being carried out from a camp office in Djibouti.

Speaking toThe Hinduover telephone, Fr. V.M. Mathew, spokesperson of the provincial house, said the information has been passed on to them by the office of the Bishop of Abu Dhabi.

Alleged to be Al Qaeda, contradicts earlier statement by AQAP

According to Fr. Mathew, as per their information, the arrested persons have identified themselves as members of the al-Qaeda. The information has been passed on by the secretary to the Bishop of Abu Dhabi, he said.
Meanwhile, an element of mystery surrounds the arrests of the alleged al-Qaeda members as those who are engaged in an effort to ensure the safe passage of the Catholic priest from Kerala were totally in the dark about the development.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) had earlier denied reports that they were behind the attack. In a statement addressed to the residents of Aden, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), also known as Ansar al Sharia, denied “any links to the attack on the elderly care home”.

“These are not our operations and this is not our way of fighting,” said the group, which has seized parts of southern and eastern Yemen.

It’s Fr Uzhunnalil’s 58th birthday and everyone wishes for his release

Thursday 18 August 2016 11:54 AM IST

New Delhi: Everyone wishes the best for Fr Tom Uzhunnalil on his 58th birthday but no one knows if the greetings would reach the missing Keralite priest. From priests and nuns to relatives and well-wishers, everyone has been praying for the release of the Salesian priest ever since he was abducted from a Missionaries of Charity old-age home in Yemen five months ago.

The priest's ancestral house in Kottayam is locked up and his elder brother, who had returned to the home after hearing about the abduction, has gone back to Ranchi.

“There is still no clear news about the father. Even the last message we received from the government was that they are trying but it's difficult to evacuate people from strife-torn Yemen,” advocate Kunjaugusty, a second cousin of the priest, told Onmanorama.

Fr Uzhunnalil was kidnapped from Aden on March 4, after an attack on the old-age home that left four nuns and several others dead. The Indian government has always maintained that the priest was safe. Reports in July suggested that three of his abductors had been nabbed and they had admitted to kidnapping the priest.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and people’s representatives, along with Fr Uzhunnalil’s relatives in Kottayam, have met prime minister Narendra Modi and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj several times to press the government to try for his release from his captors. The responses have been encouraging so far. Many countries are trying to get information on the priest and to secure his release.
Fr Tom Uzhunnalil's 'Yemeni friend' seeks to 'expose lies' of Indian govt

'Taken to another country'

The external affairs ministry has hinted that the priest could have been taken to some other country from Yemen. The sources, however, are clueless about his whereabouts or the conditions of the terrorists.

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