British Hostage Freed in Somalia

Posted March 21st, 2012 at 5:25 pm (UTC-5)
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A British woman kidnapped and held more than half a year in Somalia says she is “hugely relieved” to be free, but grieving her husband, who died at the hands of her kidnappers.

Judith Tebbutt spoke to reporters in Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday after her release earlier in the day. Tebbutt said in a statement that she was overjoyed to be reunited with her son, but requested privacy for her family as they mourn the death of her husband.

David Tebbutt was killed during the attack in September, just hours after the couple checked into a luxury resort about 40 kilometers south of the Kenya-Somalia border. Suspected Somali pirates snatched Tebbutt in the first of a strong of kidnappings in the area.

Media reports say Tebbutt's family paid a ransom of about $1 million to secure her freedom.

The British government said in a statement Wednesday that it does not pay ransoms or “facilitate concessions” to hostage-takers.

George Moorhead, the owner of the now-closed resort where Tebbutt was kidnapped, says he is glad that she has been released.

“Well, I feel greatly relieved that Judith who was being held against her will for over six months is back being reunited with her son, but I can say at the same time, very sad that her husband isn't with her.''

Kenyan authorities charged at least two suspects in the murder-kidnapping.

Issa Sheikh Said was charged with robbery with violence and kidnapping, allegations he has denied. Former resort worker Ali Babitu Kololo faces similar charges. He says an armed gang forced him to lead them to the couple's cottage.

The Kenyan government blamed Somali militant group al-Shabab for a wave of kidnappings in Kenya last year and sent troops into southern Somalia to fight the militant group. Al-Shabab has denied involvement in the kidnappings.

The Tebbutts were visiting from Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire in southeast England.

David Tebbutt was the finance director of the British publishing company Faber & Faber.