Kidnappers free Briton held hostage in Somalia

British hostage Judith Tebbutt has been freed by her kidnappers after being held for more than six months.

Tebbutt (56) and her husband David (58) were staying at the remote Kiwayu Safari Village resort on the Kenyan coast near the border with Somalia when their beach hut was stormed by gunmen early on 11 September.

Her husband, the finance director at the publisher Faber & Faber, was shot dead and his wife was bundled into a waiting speedboat and taken over the border to Somalia.

Tebbutt told ITV News: “I’m really happy. It’s just nice to be around other people. It’s been quite lonely for seven months.”

Omar Mohammed Diirey, a regional administration official in Adado in central Somalia, told Reuters Tebbutt was on a plane from Adado to Nairobi.

A spokesperson for the UK foreign office said: “We can confirm that Judith Tebbutt, the British hostage held in Somalia since September 2011, has been released. Our priority now is to get her to a place of safety.”

A pirate who identified himself as Ahmed told Reuters Tebbutt had been handed over to regional administration officials early on Wednesday after a ransom had been air dropped.

A Kenyan man was charged in September in connection with the attack on the couple.

In the weeks after the Tebbutts were targeted, attackers abducted a disabled French woman from another beach in northern Kenya and two Spanish aid workers from a refugee camp in the East African country.

The string of incidents, which Kenya’s government blamed on Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked militant group al-Shabab, led it to tighten security along its long border with Somalia as terrified tourists fled the country. Britain and the US, where most tourists to Kenya come from, warned their citizens to stay away from Lamu, where the Tebbutts were attacked, as did France.

Al-Shabab denied it was behind the wave of kidnappings and pirates, who usually focus on hijacking merchant ships and private yachts off the lawless country’s coast, said they were holding Tebbutt. —

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