Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland missionary Alanna Carson home after Nigeria kidnapping terror

By Allan Preston

A missionary from Northern Ireland has returned home safely after surviving a horrific kidnapping ordeal which saw one of her colleagues murdered.

Alanna Carson, an optometrist from Ballymoney in Co Antrim, had been working with the New Foundations Christian medical charity in Nigeria when she was taken with three other UK colleagues three weeks ago.

Her colleague Ian Squire was killed during their capture, with the others let go after the west African country's authorities negotiated for their release.

Mr Squire had been drafted in alongside Ms Carson by the charity to carry out hundreds of cataract operations in January.

They had been working with New Foundation's David and Shirley Donovan when they were abducted in the Niger Delta in the south of the country on October 13.

It's understood a ransom was demanded, but it is not known if it was paid.

The BBC was told the kidnappers were a criminal gang who had recently kidnapped the mother of a local politician.

A UK Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are supporting the families of four British people who were abducted in Nigeria, one of whom was tragically killed.

"This has clearly been a traumatic time for all concerned, and our staff will continue to do all we can to support the families.

"We are grateful to the Nigerian authorities, and are unable to comment given the ongoing nature of their investigations."

A statement issued on behalf of all the families of the four hostages said: "We are grateful for the support received by the British High Commission and help from the Nigerian authorities in negotiating their release.

"We are delighted and relieved that Alanna, David and Shirley have returned home safely.

"Our thoughts are now with the family and friends of Ian as we come to terms with his sad death.

"This has been a traumatic time for our loved ones who were kidnapped and for their families and friends here in the UK."

Ms Carson works full time as an optometrist at Specsavers in Leven, Fife, Scotland.

Store director Adrian McCann said: "We are of course hugely relieved to hear that our colleague has been safely released and is back home with her family."

DUP MLA for North Antrim Mervyn Storey welcomed Ms Carson's safe return and praised her family's bravery as they waited for news.

"To have her home I'm sure is a great relief. I'm sure as well that while they waited the family have relied on their faith and now as a family, they can try to deal with this traumatic experience," he said.

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