The Catholic priest held captive for 14 months has appeared in a new video pleading for the international community to secure his release.
Fr Tom Uzhunnalil, a Salesian priest who was taken captive in a raid on a care home in the Yemeni capital Aden, looks frail in the short video and his hair and beard are long and unkempt. In his lap is a strip of cardboard with the date 15 April 2017 written on it.
During the raid, gunmen killed four Indian nuns, two Yemeni female staff members, eight elderly residents and a guard.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place amid civil war between government forces and Iran-backed Houthis. President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has called the incident an act of terrorism.
Fr Tom, 58, is diabetic and also suffers from blood pressure issues. His whereabouts are not known.
The video, which was carried by a Yemeni news website, has not been verified.
“They are treating me well to the extent they are able,” Fr Tom says slowly in English.
“My health condition is deteriorating quickly and I require hospitalisation as early as possible,” he added.
The priest said his kidnappers had contacted the Indian government and the Catholic “bishop of Abu Dhabi” in the United Arab Emirates with their demands, but the response was “not encouraging”.
After a similar video appeared online on 24 December, Abu Dhabi-based Bishop Paul Hinder, Vicar Apostolic of Southern Arabia, issued a statement, saying: “Since the day of the abduction of Fr. Tom, the Church has made countless appeals from the highest levels to secure his release, as well as made concrete efforts by way of working in close collaboration with both international and local diplomatic channels.”
Source: Reuters, Matters India