Abducted Indian priest Alexis Prem Kumar freed in Afghanistan after 8 months

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New Delhi | Updated: February 22, 2015 8:21:56 PM

Eight months after his abduction in Afghanistan, Indian Christian priest Father Alexis Prem Kumar has been released...

Eight months after his abduction in Afghanistan, Indian Christian priest Father 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 Father Alexis Prem Kumar from captivity in Afghanistan,” he tweeted.

“Have spoken to Father Alexis Prem Kumar. Informed happy family of Father Alexis Prem Kumar of his safe return after 8 months in captivity,” he added.

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.

“Father 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 added.

He 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 said then.

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.

Prem Kumar later arrived here and thanked the Prime Minister Modi for his efforts in securing his release.

He said it was because of the Prime Minister that he has been able to return to his country after being in captivity for eight months following his abduction in Afghanistan.

Feelings of relief and joy today serenaded the house of Prem Kumar of Devakottai in Tamil Nadu.

“We do not have words to express our joy. We have been praying for the last eight months for his release. It is a very good moment. Our prayers have been answered,” younger brother of the priest John Joseph told PTI.

“We were in touch with the Indian government every day. Today around 4.10 PM Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to my father,” he said.

Alexis Prem Kumar is the eldest son of Antony Sami and Mariathangam. John Joseph and Albert Manohar are his younger brothers. He has two sisters Sahayadh and Elizabeth Rani.

The family hails from Devakottai in Sivaganga district in Tamil Nadu.

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