Yemen priest kidnap: Church condemns 'unfounded rumours' about Fr Tom Uzhunnalil

Salesian priest Fr Tom Uzhunnalil is being held prisoner by Islamic State.

The mission order to which kidnapped priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil belongs has condemned unfounded speculation about his situation. It lists "credible sources" which should be used instead.

The Indian priest was taken when the old people's home in Yemen where he was working was attacked by Islamic State terrorists on March 4. Rumours spread that he would be crucified on Good Friday, though Church and Indian state authorities have said they have no information about him.

The official statement from the Salesians of Don Bosco says the credible sources for news about Uzhunnalil are the Indian Government's Ministry of External Affairs, Archbishop Paul Hinder, the Salesian Province of Bangalore and the Salesian Congregation in Rome.

Most recently it has been reported that the Indian government has received a huge ransom demand via video for Fr Tom's release. None of these credible sources supports this.

A pro-Yemeni government militant checks a room floor stained with blood at an old people's home after it was attacked by Islamist gunmen in the Yemeni port of Aden on March 4, 2016.Reuters

The statement says: "Please do not give credence to reports coming from other sources (eg. some convent of sisters, other bishops/cardinals/priests,astrologers/godpersons/newsanchors/politicians, etc.) unless the news has been confirmed by any of the above-mentioned primary sources."

It continues: "Spreading false rumours and unconfirmed reports might actually jeopardise the safety of Fr Tom.

"The best that we can do at present is to pray to the Almighty for him, his close relatives and all persons who are persecuted for their faith."

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India said in a press statement reported by the National Catholic Register: "A lot of rumors are being spread in the social media that Father Tom was subjected to cruel torture and then crucified on Good Friday. This gruesome news is being widely circulated, both at home and abroad."

It added: "This really upsets us and brings agony to the relatives and concern for all."

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