‘Islamic State’ militants behind Indian priest’s abduction in Yemen

  • AFP, Aden
  • Updated: Mar 06, 2016 19:53 IST
Yemeni security forces gather outside an elderly care home in Yemen's main southern city of Aden after it was attacked by gunmen on March 4. (AFP Photo)

An Indian priest missing after an attack on a care home run in Yemen is being held by the assailants, likely militants from the Islamic State group, officials said on Sunday.

Yemeni authorities have blamed IS for the Friday attack on the refuge for the elderly operated by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in main southern city of Aden.

“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 told AFP.

“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.

Gunmen stormed the refuge killing a Yemeni guard before tying up and shooting 15 other employees, officials said.

Four foreign nuns working as nurses were among those killed.

The Vatican missionary news agency, Fides, identified the nuns as two Rwandans, a Kenyan and an Indian, adding that the mother superior managed to hide and survive while an Indian priest was missing.

Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday tweeted: “Father Tom Uzhunnalil -- an Indian national has been abducted by terrorists in Yemen.”

“Yemen is a conflict zone. We do not have (an) embassy there. But we will spare no efforts to rescue Father Tom Uzhunnalil,” she wrote.

The internationally recognised government in war-torn Yemen is grappling with both an Iran-backed rebellion and a growing jihadist presence.

The Vatican’s secretary of state, Pietro Parolin, has said Pope Francis “was shocked and profoundly saddened” to learn of “this act of senseless and diabolical violence”.

Al Qaeda and IS have stepped up attacks in Aden, targeting mainly loyalists and members of a Saudi-led coalition battling Houthi rebels and their allies since March last year.

Al-Qaeda distanced itself from the mass shooting on 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.

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