As Good Friday approaches within the next 24 hours, qualms are mounting about the welfare of a Salesian priest who was seized during a terrorist attack on a senior citizens' facility in Yemen on March 4. Father Tom Uzhunnalil was believed to have been kidnapped by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria radicals (ISIS), and dreadful Internet reports suggest he may be crucified by his captors on Good Friday, as Christians mark the day Jesus died. No group has claimed responsibility for kidnapping the priest, but a nun who survived the attack attributed it to ISIS.
Uzhunnalil, who was a member of the Silesian order in of Bangalore, India, was seized when four armed militants stormed the facility for elderly people in Aden in Yemen. The gunmen killed 16 people, including four nuns in the brutal attack. The priest was the chaplain of the nursing home run by the Missionaries of Charity.
See prior coverage from The Gospel Herald: Priest Seized By Terrorists in Yemen Remains Missing Among Rumors He will be Crucified on Good Friday
The Franciscan Sisters of Siessen, based in South Africa, posted the following message on Facebook March 19: "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."
Since that alarming Facebook report was posted, members of Uzhunnalil's order denied it, however they were unable to say where the priest may be held or whether he is alive or dead.
Father Mathew Valarkot, spokesman for the Salesians' Bangalore province to which the kidnapped priest belongs, as reported by the Mirror, said: "We have absolutely no information on Fr. Tom."
Earlier this month, the sole survivor of the brutal attack, Sister Sally, described how the militants, who she said belonged to ISIS, killed everyone else. Her account, reported in the Christian Post, described how she evaded death by hiding behind a door while the ISIS fighters searched for her.
It reads: "They were killed one by one. They tied them to trees, shot them in the head and smashed their heads."
"These ISIS men were everywhere, searching for her, as they knew there were five [nuns]."
"At least three times they came into the refrigerator room. She did not hide, but remained standing behind the door. They never saw her. This is miraculous."