- Father Tom Uzhunnalil will spend a few days in Vatican before leaving for India
- Preparations have began at Fr Uzhunnalil's residence near Kottayam to welcome him
- Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan expressed happiness over the release of Fr Uzhunnalil
Father Tom Uzhunnalil, abducted by Islamic militants in Yemen last year, has reached the Vatican, confirmed external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.
Fr Uzhunnalil will spend a few days in Vatican before leaving for India, according to Asianet News. He is expected to meet Pope Francis in a day or two.
"Father Tom Uzhunnalil has reached Vatican," Swaraj said in a tweet on Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, preparations have began at Fr Uzhunnalil's residence near Kottayam to welcome him. He hails from Bharananganam in Pala.
Father Tom Uzhunnalil has reached Vatican.— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) September 12, 2017
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan expressed happiness over the release of Fr Uzhunnalil, and said his government would provide all possible help for his return to the state.
"The intervention of Oman had paved the way for his release, I understand," Vijayan said in a Facebook post. The priest, who is "very weak", is undergoing treatment. All help will be provided to enable him to reach Kerala, the Chief Minister said.
BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan said the release was the result of Swaraj's "earnest efforts". All steps should be taken to bring the priest as early as possible to his home state of Kerala, he said in a statement.
Fr Uzhunnalil was rescued from the clutches of terror group Islamic State in Yemen on Tuesday. Earlier, Swaraj confirmed the news and tweeted, "I am happy to inform that Father Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued."
Fr Uzhunnalil was reportedly kidnapped in March 2016 by the Islamic State in Yemen, when they attacked a retirement home in Aden run by the Missionaries of Charity, killing 16 people, including four nuns.
Last year, the Indian government had confirmed that efforts were underway to ensure his early release.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:41 PM IST