Oman govt ‘instrumental’ in Indian priest’s rescue in Yemen

The government of Oman played a key role in freeing Father Tom Uzhunnalil, a Catholic priest from India who was kidnapped by Islamic State-linked terrorists in Yemen last year, according to a media report.

Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the ruler of Oman, ordered authorities in the sultanate to assist in rescuing Uzhunnalil after receiving a request for help from the Vatican, the Times of Oman reported on Tuesday, hours after external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted that the priest had been rescued.

After his release, the father Sultan Qaboos Bin Said of Oman who played an instrumental role in negotiating his release. Sultan Qaboos was reportedly in constant touch with parties from Yemen as well as India’s Ministry of External Affairs during the negotiations.

Some of the other hostages rescued through Sultan Qaboos’ efforts include Canadian national Dr. Homa Hoodfar who had been imprisoned in Iran and was released in September 2016. In the same year, he also helped secure the release of unidentified hostages from Germany and Australia, who were being held captive by rebels in Yemen.

Sultan Qaboos is known to have a special fondness for India. Some of his closest advisors are of Indian origin. Khimji Ramdas, a prominent industrialist in Oman is of Gujarati origin and is known to be extremely close to the Sultan.

Here’s a journalist who is saying that there were no efforts from the Indian side to rescue Father Tom Uzhunnalil.

But, Sushma Swaraj had last month assured a delegation of priests from Bengaluru that the priest would be released soon. India had repeatedly said it was in regular touch with Yemeni and Saudi authorities regarding Tom’s release.