Focus

Father Tom: Abducted Indian priest was 'treated well' in Yemen

An Indian priest who returned home after being abducted in Yemen last year, says he was treated well during his time in captivity and does not know who his captors were.

"They did not identify themselves in any way. I don't know Arabic and one of them only spoke some broken English," Father Tom Uzhunnalil told BBC Hindi.

He added that a video of him being beaten by his abductors was "staged".

Father Tom was abducted while he was working at a home for the elderly.

A number of foreigners have been kidnapped since the start of the Yemeni civil war in 2015.

The 58-year-old priest was kidnapped when jihadist militants raided his charity house in Aden. The raid also killed 16 people, including four Catholic nuns, who were from the Missionaries of Charity congregation, founded by Mother Teresa.

"I don't know what exactly happened. It is very difficult to say because as soon as I came out of the chapel, one man held my hand and I voluntarily said I am an Indian," he told BBC Hindi's Imran Qureshi.

He said he did not know where he was taken, but had been given access to food and medicine and was told that he was "safe".

A video of him pleading for help as he was beaten caused outrage in India, but the priest said that the entire episode was staged.

"They took the video as if they were beating me. They told me not to be frightened and that it was being done only to speed up the response from others. They did not hurt me. From that I understood that they probably want money," he said.

Father Tom joined the Silesian congregation in 1989. He served in many places in India before leaving for Yemen a few years later. He resisted calls to return to India when the war intensified in Yemen.

The Oman government helped secure his release.BBC

Advert