Sana’a: An Indian Catholic priest kidnapped by ISIS terrorist in Yemen earlier this month is due to be crucified on Good Friday, religious groups claim.
Father Tom Uzhunnalil, 56, was taken by Islamist gunmen, reportedly linked to ISIS, who attacked an old people’s home in Aden, southern Yemen, killing at least 15 people, on March 4.
Several religious groups have posted on social media that they have received reports that Father Tom, from Bangalore, India, will be crucified tomorrow during the Christian holiday.
A group of South African nuns called the Franciscan Sisters of Siessen, posted this week: ‘Was informed that the Salesian priest, Fr.Tom who was kidnapped by ISIS from the Missionaries of Charity Home in Yemen is being tortured and is going to be crucified on Good Friday. This calls for serious concerted prayers from all of us.’
Yemeni authorities have blamed ISIS for the March 4 attack on the refuge for the elderly operated by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in main southern city Aden.
Four gunmen posing as relatives of one of the guests at the home burst inside, killing four Indian nuns, two Yemeni female staff members, eight elderly residents and a guard.
‘According to our information, the extremists who attacked the elderly care home in Aden have kidnapped priest Tom Uzhunnalil, a 56-year-old Indian, who was taken to an unknown location,’ a Yemeni security official said.
‘We are aware that no group has yet claimed the criminal attack… but information points to the involvement of Daesh,’ said the source, who asked to remain anonymous, using an Arabic acronym for IS.
However, members of Father Tom’s order have denied that he is due to be crucified, saying they have no information on his health or whereabouts.
We have absolutely no information on Fr Tom,’ Father Mathew Valarkot, spokesman for the Salesians’ Bangalore province, told UCANews.
‘But even today we do not know who has taken him and what their motives are because no one has claimed responsibility.’
The Vatican’s Secretary of State Pietro Parolin said earlier this month that Pope Francis ‘was shocked and profoundly saddened’ to learn of ‘this act of senseless and diabolical violence.’
Aden had been racked by lawlessness since Hadi supporters, backed by Gulf Arab military forces, drove fighters from Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthi group from the city in July last year.
The Yemeni government has repeatedly vowed to restore security to the city but so far had had little success.
Al-Qaeda and IS have stepped up attacks in Aden, targeting mainly loyalists and members of a Saudi-led coalition battling Huthi rebels and their allies since March last year.
Al-Qaeda distanced itself from the mass shooting Friday, saying it was not responsible.
President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi has declared Aden to be Yemen’s temporary capital as Sanaa has been in the hands of rebels since September 2014.