British Hostage Freed in Somalia

Posted March 21st, 2012 at 10:40 am (UTC-5)
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A British woman is free and has arrived in Kenya's capital after being held captive in Somalia for more than half a year.

Somali gunmen kidnapped 56-year-old Judith Tebbutt from a remote Kenyan beach resort last September.

Witnesses say Tebbutt was released in the Somali town of Addado Wednesday and put on a plane to Nairobi. Tebbutt later told British television she was happy to be free but very sad about the loss of her husband.

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

Gunmen kidnapped Tebbutt and killed her husband David last September, just hours after they checked into a luxury resort, the Kiwayu Safari Village, about 40 kilometers south of the Kenya-Somalia border. They were the resort's only guests at the time.

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.