Father Tom Uzhunnalil. Photo: Economic Times

Father Tom Uzhunnalil, a Vatican priest from Kerala who was freed earlier this month after being abducted and held by ISIS militants in Yemen for over a year, returned to India on Thursday morning, according to media reports.

Uzhunnalil reportedly said after arriving in Delhi, “I am very happy. Thank Almighty for making this day possible. I am grateful to all those people who have worked in their own way [to secure my release].”

Uzhunnalil met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday to thank him for the efforts made by his government.

On March 4, 2016, militants abducted Uzhunnalil terrorists during a deadly attack on home for senior citizens in the southern city of Aden, DNA reported. With the help of the Oman government and the Vatican, the Indian government finally managed to free him from his captors on  September 12.

Uzhunnalil, who is from Kerala’s Kottayam district, was sent to Yemen in 2010. When his five-year stint in the country ended, the church asked him to stay until a replacement could be found.

Union Minister of State for Tourism Alphonse Kannamthanam, who met Father Uzhunnalil at the airport, said, “We are most happy that you are back. We thank the PM and the external affairs minister for taking this great effort . We also thank the rulers of Sudan and Oman and the Vatican for the great efforts they have taken.”

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