Britain welcomes release of hostage by Somali pirates
Mar 21, 2012, 19:06 GMT
Nairobi - The British government Wednesday welcomed the release by Somali pirates of a woman held hostage for six months after being captured from a Kenyan resort with her husband, who died in the attack.
Judith Tebbutt, 56, was captured in September from the remote Kiwayu resort in Kenya, close to the popular tourist destination of Lamu. Her husband David, 58, was shot dead before the raiders fled by boat back across the border to Somalia.
'I am delighted that Judith Tebbutt has been released following her six-month ordeal. Judith is now in the care of the British High Commission in Nairobi and has been reunited with her son, Oliver,' Foreign Secretary William Hague said in London.
According to one pirate leader, a ransom was paid for her release, although this could not be immediately confirmed from other sources.
The BBC reported that the British government held some 20 crisis meetings over her case. However, since it was government policy not to pay ransoms, it was left to Tebbutt's family and friends to hire a private security company to negotiate with her captors, while the family raised the ransom money.
'Our priority now is to get her to a place of safety,' a British Foreign Office spokesman told dpa while refusing to give any more details beyond confirming her release.
'She was released today and travelled from Adado airport at about 11 am (0800 GMT),' Abdulkadir Mohamed Afwayne, a pirate leader close to the gang who had been holding her, told dpa.
Tebbutt, a social worker, told the BBC that while she was relieved to be free, she was still coming to terms with her husband's death, which she only found out through contact with her son two weeks after the kidnapping.
She was one of several foreigners kidnapped from Kenya last year. Nairobi blamed Somalia's insurgent group al-Shabaab for the kidnappings, and sent a military force into Somalia, saying it needed to secure its borders.
Al-Shabaab denies involvement, and many observers say pirates and criminal gangs operating in al-Shabaab territory, with the likely approval of some members of the insurgent group, were to blame.
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