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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Kidnapped Ulverston woman happy to be freed

AN Ulverston woman kidnapped from a resort island on the Kenyan coast has said she is "really happy" she has been freed.

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British tourist Judith Tebbutt, 56, who was snatched by Somali gunmen from a resort island in Kenya and whose husband David Tebbutt was killed in the attack, is seen after being freed following more than six months in captivity in Adado, Somalia Wednesday, March 21, 2012. (AP Photo)

Judith Tebbutt, 56, was released by her captors after a ransom was reportedly raised by her relatives.

She told ITV News: "I'm really happy. It's just nice to be around other people, it's been quietly lonely for seven months."

Mrs Tebbutt was snatched from the remote Kiwayu Safari Village, close to the border with Somalia, last September by a gang who killed her 58-year-old husband David. The couple's son Oliver declined to comment but a friend of Mr Tebbutt said it was "wonderful news".

Somali pirate Bile Hussein and Mohammed Hussein, an official with the militia Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama, said Mrs Tebbutt was released by pirates holding her and was expected to be flown to Nairobi.

The Tebbutts, from Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, had arrived at the safari village after visiting the Masai Mara game reserve and were the resort's only guests. Mr Tebbutt worked for publisher Faber & Faber and was a member of the Book Trade Charity, which offers support and grants to those in the book trade.

Chief executive David Hicks, who knew him for 15 years, said: "This sounds wonderful, though I'll only really be happy when it's definite that she's safe."

Local MP Richard Harrington, from Watford, told Sky News: "Our thoughts are with Oliver, who must have such feelings today. Under the circumstances, he's done absolutely fantastically. I think he's conducted himself for one so young so extremely well, and I do nothing other than just commend him."

Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman said: "We can confirm that she has been released. Our priority now is to get her toa place of safety. We will have more to say about that shortly. We are standing by to provide consular care as soon as she arrives in Nairobi."

The spokesman said that Mrs Tebbutt's case had been discussed at 20 meetings of the Government's Cobra emergency committee during her captivity. Asked whether the Government was aware of a ransom being paid, the spokesman said: "Our position is that we do not pay ransoms and we do not facilitate concessions to hostage-takers."

Asked whether officials had advised the family not to pay a ransom, he replied: "All I can say is that we have been in close contact throughout. We have obviously been providing support to the family and been in close contact with the family throughout and have been meeting regularly to discuss the case."

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