Indian aid worker held hostage in Afghanistan returns

Last Updated 22 February 2015, 20:03 IST

India has secured the release of Jesuit priest Father Alexis Premkumar Antonysamy, who spent eight months in captivity in Afghanistan.

Announcing his release in a series of tweets, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “delighted at securing the release of Indian Jesuit priest Fr Alexis Premkumar from captivity in Afghanistan.”

“Have spoken to Father Alexis Premkumar. Informed happy family of the Father of his safe return after 8 months in captivity,” Modi added.

Father Premkumar, an Indian citizen, was kidnapped on June 2, 2014 from Herat province in western Afghanistan by terrorist elements.  After landing in Delhi, the relieved priest said, “I want to thank the Almighty. I thank him first. Also this is because of our PM Modi that I am here.”

At the time of his abduction, Premkumar was working with the Jesuist Refugee Service, an international NGO, that carried out work in the educational field in the war ravaged Afghanistan.

Soon after his abduction, the deputy police chief of Herat, Mohammad Nadir Fahimi stated six gunmen had abducted Premkumar and might have taken him to Gulran district. He stated that Afghan authorities were working with “district elders” to mediate his release.
Premkumar was the country director of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Afghanistan. A native of Tamil Nadu, he has been working with the JRS for more than a decade.

After serving Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu, he has been serving in the education programme in Afghanistan for the last three years. “The matter of his release has been pursued by our leadership, including at the highest levels by the Prime Minister.

Arrangements are being made for him to rejoin his family soon,” External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

(Published 22 February 2015, 20:03 IST)

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