Wednesday, March 21, 2012
British hostage Judith Tebbutt, captured in Kenya over six months ago
by gunmen who killed her husband, was released in central Somalia and
flown out to Nairobi Wednesday, elders said.
The Foreign Office in London confirmed the release, saying the "priority now is to get her to a place of safety."
57, was taken on September 11 last year from a remote beach resort near
the Kenyan-Somali border by armed men who shot dead her husband David.
"The British lady who was kidnapped from Kenya was just released," said Mahmoud Hirsi, an elder in the Addado region.
"She is a free woman, but I cannot discuss the technical details of her release," he added.
Abdiwali Ahmed, a resident of Addado, said Tebbutt had left Somalia on a small airplane bound for the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
"The plane had the hostage and three other people on board," he said.
was released in the Addado region, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from
the Ethiopian border and about 500 kilometres (300 miles) northeast of
Somalia's capital Mogadishu.
Tebbutt, reported to have hearing
difficulties, is believed to have been held by gunmen in a lawless
region notorious for its pirate gangs who had held Paul and Rachel
Chandler, the British couple seized from their yacht in 2009 and held
for a year.
"The people in Addado and the surrounding areas pushed
the local leaders to do something about the hostage. I heard that since
the abduction, she was held by three different groups," said Abdullahi
Yasin, a driver in Addado.
Security was beefed up in the region
after US special forces swooped in by helicopter on a night raid in
January to rescue an American woman and a Danish man working for a
demining aid agency in the area.
Pirates in the region also hold
hundreds of hostages seized from ships in the Indian Ocean, and have in
the past demanded multi-million dollar ransoms for the release of
captives and of boats.
It was not immediately clear if a ransom
had been paid to secure Tebbutt's release, but local elder Mohamud
Ibrahim said negotiations had been ongoing since her capture, and that
"expenses incurred during the captivity were very high."
"Community elders and civil society groups have been active in order to resolve the matter," Ibrahim said.
people in Addado were sympathetic to the hostage because she lost her
husband and suffered too much at the hands of her abductors," Mohamud
Ibrahim, another resident and elder.
The couple, from the town of
Bishop's Stortford in southeastern England, were attacked in their room
at night. They were the only guests at the upmarket Kiwayu Safari
Village, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Somali border.
A French woman, Marie Dedieu, kidnapped from the same coastal area three weeks later, died in captivity.
October, gunmen captured two Spanish aid workers from Kenya's Dadaab
refugee camp, who are believed to be still held in Somalia.
spate of attacks prompted Kenya to send in troops and tanks into
southern Somalia in October to attack the Al-Qaeda allied Shebab
insurgents, who Nairobi blamed for the attacks.
insurgents, who control large parts of southern and central Somalia,
have always denied involvement in the kidnappings, but do admit to
abducting Kenyan officials they call prisoners of war.