British Woman Kidnapped In Kenya Freed

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Beach at Kiwayu Safari Village Resort where kidnapping took place
Kiwayu, Kenya

A British woman, kidnapped from a Kenyan resort by Somali pirates and held in captivity for a little over six months, has been released and anticipates being reunited with her family back in London.

Judith Tebbutt, 56,was apparently released through the efforts of her son, Oliver, and not by any measures taken by the British government.

Judith and her husband David, 58. were on holiday in a remote Kenyan resort when a group of six Somali pirates abducted the couple. David was shot and killed by the pirates and Judith was taken away in a speedboat and held for ransom in Somalia for six months.

According to the BBC, Judith did not know her husband had been killed until two weeks after her abduction.

After 192 days in captivity, Mrs. Tebbutt was flown to the British embassy in Nairobi before she is scheduled to return to her family in the UK.

She told ITV News: I'm very relieved to have been released. Seven months is a long time. Under the circumstances, with my husband passing away, it made it harder. I am just happy to be released and I'm looking forward to seeing my son who successfully secured my release. I don't know how he did it, but he did. Which is great.

BBC's East Africa correspondent Will Ross said that the ransom for her release was paid in the last three days, not by the British government but instead by a private security company after months of negotiations between Mrs. Tebbutt's son Oliver and her captives.

The British government does not pay ransoms, Ross said, but but it certainly doesn't seem to have stood in the way of the family to secure Judith Tebbutt's release.

Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman confirmed Mrs. Tebbutt's release and also said that the British government does not pay ransoms or facilitate concessions to hostage-makers. Their priority now is to ensure that Mrs. Tebbutt is well taken care of in Nairobi and then safely returned home to Britain.

The total sum of her ransom is not certain but Britian's Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that according to local Somali sources, a ransom of $1.1 million was air-dropped yesterday. 

The Kenyan government originally believed the kidnapping gang had links to Al-Shabab, an Islamist group in Somalia linked to Al-Qaeda, but this has not been confirmed.

The Telegraph's Con Coughlin noted however that the kidnappers were not linked to Al-Qaeda.

The other important factor in her case was that... Mrs Tebbutt's abductors were criminals, rather than ideologues, he said.

And once it had been established that they wanted money for her safe release, all that was required was some painstaking work to ensure the negotiators were actually talking to the people responsible for her abduction, and that a fee could be agreed.

Mrs. Tebbutt also noted that her captors did not mistreat her but instead made her as comfortable as possible under the circumstances. She recalls being moved regularly from house to house during her captivity.

British police officers have started an investigation in Kenya over the circumstances of the kidnapping and David Tebbutt's murder. The two were kidnapped from their room in a holiday seaside resort in Kenya where it is believed that Mr. Tebbutt may have tried to resist the pirates. Judith will now be a key witness in the investigation for her husband's murder and the kidnapping.

Right now, however, she will focus on her safe return home, reuniting with her family,  and coping with her loss and recent experiences.

Agence France Presse  reported that Paul and Rachel Chandler, another couple who had been held by Somali pirates for over a year, offered their reflections and advice for Mrs. Tebbutt:

Both the physical and the emotional effects of being held captive for so long take their toll, and it does take time to recover. You need just to feel reassured again and to pick up the pieces of your life and look ahead and know that you can live a normal a life again. It's possible -- we do feel very much back to normal.

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