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Freed British hostage 'delighted' to be home after Yemen ordeal

Published 25/08/2015

Bob Semple, who was held hostage in Yemen, and his wife Sallie (Foreign and Commonwealth Office/PA)
Bob Semple, who was held hostage in Yemen, and his wife Sallie (Foreign and Commonwealth Office/PA)

A British hostage freed after being held in Yemen for around 18 months said he is "delighted and relieved to be back home safely" after being reunited with his family.

Bob Semple, 64, was released in a military intelligence operation by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In a statement released via the Foreign Office he said: "I am delighted and relieved to be back home safely and to be reunited with my family after such a long time.

"My wife Sallie and I want to thank all the people who supported us through this ordeal: especially the Foreign Office, Hostage UK, the police, our family, friends and well wishers, and the UAE forces who secured my release. We are incredibly grateful to you all.

"We would also like to thank the media for showing restraint during my 18 months in captivity, and I ask that this continues, allowing me to enjoy some valuable and much missed time with my family. It is great to be home."

Mr Semple had reportedly been working as an engineer when he was kidnapped in February last year by al Qaida.

His rescue comes after a video emerged apparently showing him pleading for help seven months after he was kidnapped.

Footage posted on YouTube by Arab broadcaster AlziandiQ8 on August 31 last year appears to show Mr Semple begging for help from Britain or Yemeni authorities, saying he fears his captors will soon kill him.

In the video the blindfolded man speaks haltingly with his head lowered, saying: "My name is Bob Semple. I am a British subject working in Yemen for a royal services company, Intracs Middle East Limited.

"Please, British or Yemen, please help me to get back to my family. I have been captive for seven months and my situation is not good. These guys are going to kill me, soon, I think."

The footage has not been verified as authentic by British or foreign authorities.

Several Britons have been recently kidnapped in impoverished Yemen, where abductions are frequent as armed tribesmen and al Qaida-linked militants take hostages in an effort to swap them for prisoners or cash.

The UAE is involved alongside Saudi Arabian forces in combating the Iran-supported Shiite Houthi rebels and allied units of Yemen's fractured military as the country collapses into chaos.

Saudi Arabia began bombing military installations in Yemen in March after receiving a request for help from president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who left the country by sea as the Houthis pushed towards the port city of Aden.

The air strikes had the support of several other countries in the region, but were condemned by Iran as an "invasion" and a "dangerous step" that will worsen the crisis.

Saudi Arabia and its allies believe the Houthis are tools for Iran to seize control of Yemen, though the Houthis deny they are backed by Tehran.

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