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Kolkata: Father Tom Uzhunnalil, an Indian catholic priest kidnapped in Yemen in March 2016 by Islamic State-backed rebels and rescued in September last year, on Saturday apologised for a video message during captivity.
In the video, Uzhunnalil was seen complaining that had he been a European priest, the authorities would have got him released. “I am from India and therefore, I am perhaps not considered of much value,” he had said in the video circulated by his abductors.
On Feb 24, the 59-year-old appeared to hold his captors responsible for the clip. “Whatever I said in the video was not from my heart. My abductors wanted me to speak so. I do not know why they forced me to say so… Nevertheless, I apologise for whatever I had said,” Uzhunnalil told The Telegraph after attending a mass at Mother House in Krishnagar where he had come to express his gratitude to the sisters who had prayed for his release.
Uzhunnalil, from Kerala’s Kottayam, was abducted on March 4, 2016. “The militants raided our charity in Aden and killed 16 people, including four Catholic nuns who were from the Missionaries of Charity congregation founded by Mother Teresa,” he recalled on Saturday.
According to the priest, his captors had “recorded at least four or five videos”.
“I was forced to speak as per their script…I had informed the President and the Prime Minister about the incident after my release,” Uzhunnalil added.
Here is the video in question:
After his release, Uzhunnalil thanked Qaboos bin Said al Said, the Sultan of Oman, for his attention in negotiating his release. According to the Indian Union Minister, no ransom was paid for his release. He returned to India after his release and met with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Uzhunnalil was quoted as saying, “May God bless all, even my abductors, for all the goodness in them.”He clarified that ISIS had given him food and didn’t harm him physically.
(With significant input from The Telegraph)