Kidnapped British woman freed in Somalia

ABDI GULED Associated Press Published:

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- A British tourist snatched by Somali gunmen from a resort island in Kenya was freed on Wednesday after more than six months in captivity, Britain's Foreign Office said.

Judith Tebbutt was taken in September by gunmen who killed her husband, David Tebbutt, during the attack.

Tebbutt told Britain's ITV she was relieved to be released after such a long time in captivity.

"The circumstances -- with my husband passing away -- made it harder," she told ITV. "I'm 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."

An official with the Somali militia Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama who asked not to be named said a ransom was paid to pirates for Tebbutt's release. No figure was given. Pirates have long earned multimillion dollar ransoms for taking ships and crew hostage. Families of individual hostages or hostage families have reportedly paid far less.

Britain's Foreign Office said: "Our priority now is to get her to a place of safety." Tebbutt was expected to fly to Kenya on Wednesday.

The attack on the Tebbutt family came during a string of assault and kidnappings by Somali gunmen near the coastal resort town of Lamu. Kenya's military cited those attacks as the reason it sent troops into Somalia to attack al-Shabab militants in October.

Gunmen entered the Tebbutts' resort room easily on the night of Sept. 10 -- their resort door was only a piece of colorful cloth. Police believed that David Tebbutt resisted and was shot. The Kiwayu Safari Village resort is 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Lamu. It consists of 18 luxury cottages spread along a private beach.

In October gunmen kidnapped a disabled French woman who lived part-time in Lamu. She died in captivity.