British hostage freed after six months in Somalia

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - Judith Telbutt, the British tourist whose kidnapping in Lamu forced the Kenyan forces to launch a military offensive in Somalia, has been freed from captivity after nearly six months, her family said Wednesday.

She was freed after family members raised ransom to win back her freedom from her Somali captors, a faction of the Al Shabaab militants, who captured her from the tourist hotel in Kiwayu, in the Lamu resort city, a popular tourist facility in the area.

Her 58-year-old husband, David, was shot in the chest while resisting the kidnapping in September. The gunmen fled into the Somali territorial waters with his wife as a hostage.

Happy to be freed, the British woman flew to Nairobi and was received by the Kenyan Tourism Minister, Najib Balala, and the Internal Security Minister, George Saitoti, who called for the lifting of the travel ban on Lamu since the incident.

“I am just happy to be released,” Judith said on arrival in Nairobi Wednesday. “Seven months is a long time and under the circumstances, including the loss of my husband, being locked away was much harder.”

Kenyan troops fighting against persistent threats from the Somali militia group, the Al Shabaab, went in a hot pursuit of the suspected kidnappers but it was not known if they succeeded in locating her whereabouts if they were involved in her release.

“I am looking forward to seeing my son who successfully paid my ransom,” Tebutt told journalists on arrival at the Wilson airport in Nairobi.

Balala said it was time to relax the travel ban on Lamu. “The tourist has been rescued, the British High Commission should lift the travel advisory on Lamu,” he said.

In Lamu, near the Kenyan border with Somalia, night watchman Ali Babito Kololo, who was on duty when the kidnapping took place, was harged in Court with robbery with violence as a result of the kidnapping.

During the trial, Kololo lamented the lack of a lawyer during the trial.

At least 230 people are held hostage in Somalia.
-0- PANA AO/VAO 21March2012

21 mars 2012 19:16:21

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