Christian priest abducted in Afghanistan freed after 8 months
NEW DELHI: Eight months after his abduction in Afghanistan,
Tamil Christian priest Fr Alexis Prem Kumar has been released safely and
arrangements are being made to reunite him with his family at the earliest.
The announcement of the release of the 47-year-old private
aid worker from Tamil Nadu was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi through
tweets. “Delighted at securing the release of Indian Jesuit priest Fr Alexis
Prem Kumar from captivity in Afghanistan,” he tweeted.
“Have spoken to Fr Alexis Prem Kumar. Informed happy family
of Fr Alexis Prem Kumar of his safe return after 8 months in captivity,” he
Prem Kumar was abducted in Herat province in western Afghanistan
by unidentified gunmen on June 2 last year. “The matter of his release has been
pursued by our leadership, including at the highest levels by the Prime
Minister,” External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said.
“Fr Alexis Prem Kumar is now back in the safety of his
homeland and arrangements are being made for him to rejoin his family soon,” he
Akbaruddin expressed India’s “deep gratitude to all those who
worked tirelessly over the last 8 months to help in this humanitarian task of ensuring
the safe release of one of our citizens.” At the time of his abduction, Prem
Kumar was working with the Jesuit Refugee Service, an international NGO, and
was engaged in the educational field in Afghanistan.
He was its Afghanistan Director and had been in the country
for over three years.
He had accompanied teachers on a visit to a JRS-supported
school for returnee refugees in Sohadat village, 25-km from the city of Herat.
He was kidnapped from the school as he was about to return to Herat, the JRS had
Before moving to Afghanistan, Kumar had worked for the JRS,
serving Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu. Four days after the abduction,
Afghan authorities had announced that three Taliban members had been arrested
in connection with the case.