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Kidnapped British woman freed in Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia — A British tourist freed Wednesday by Somali pirates after six months in captivity said she did not know for weeks that her husband was killed in the raid on a luxury beach resort on the Kenyan coast.

"I just assumed he was alive," Judith Tebbutt said, speaking haltingly in a video broadcast by the BBC, adding that her son, Oliver, told her of the killing.

"That was difficult," she said.

Tebbutt, 56, was freed Wednesday after pirates were reportedly paid a ransom. David Tebbutt, 58, was killed during the September attack, one of a string of kidnappings by Somali gunmen near the resort town of Lamu, not far from the Somali border. Kenya's military cited those attacks as the reason it sent troops into Somalia to attack al-Shabab militants in October.

Tebbutt praised her son's efforts in winning her freedom, telling Britain's ITV News: "I don't know how he did it, but he did, which is great."

British officials declined to go into details about the circumstances of Tebbutt's release, or comment on any ransom demand. But a pirate spokesman said a ransom had been paid and British news reports said her family paid it.

During her captivity, Tebbutt said she got sick three times but the pirates gave her medication and she recovered. Her captors made her "feel as comfortable as possible," she told ITV.

Gunmen entered the Tebbutts' cottage at the Kiwayu Safari Village resort easily on the night of Sept. 10 — the door was only a piece of colorful cloth. Police think David Tebbutt resisted and was shot. The Tebbutts were the only tourists staying at the 18-cottage resort on a private beach 30 miles north of Lamu, and the kidnappers spirited Judith Tebbutt away in a boat.

Kidnapped British woman freed in Somalia 03/21/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 10:33pm]
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