Briton tells of terrifying Indonesia kidnap ordeal

13th June 2013, Comments 0 comments

A shaken British energy worker told Thursday of his terrifying ordeal at the hands of kidnappers in the restive Indonesian province of Aceh.

Malcolm Primrose was abducted on Tuesday by a group of armed men who stopped his car as he was being driven to a work site in East Aceh district at around 11:00 am (0400 GMT).

He was released late Wednesday after his captors' demands for ransom were not swiftly met, and picked up early Thursday by police in a palm oil plantation in the same district.

Struggling to hold back tears, Primrose said: "It's an experience that I don't think anybody should have to go through. You don't know if you are ever going to see your family again."

"Excuse me if I am a little bit emotional," he told reporters at a press conference at the police station in Parsi Putih village in East Aceh, sitting alongside his Indonesian wife.

"I can only thank God that everything turned out all right."

Wearing blue work overalls and a traditional patterned Indonesian scarf, the drilling supervisor added he was thankful his captors "didn't hurt me in any way".

"Whilst I was afraid, they didn't hurt me, they fed me," he said. He added that when they released him, the kidnappers showed him the way to the area where he was eventually picked up by police.

His wife Nurasiah described how the kidnappers called her initially to demand a ransom of one billion rupiah ($100,000). When she tried to negotiate, they raised it to five billion.

She said they called back later with a lower demand of 250 million rupiah. When she did not immediately agree to pay, they simply gave up and released her husband later that evening.

Primrose, in his early 60s, is originally from Scotland but has not lived there for many years. His kidnap sparked a huge search by security forces, with more than 150 police and soldiers deployed.

Provincial police spokesman Gustav Leo said Primrose was freed in the middle of a palm oil plantation in the Perlak area of East Aceh and was in good health.

A spokesman for the British embassy in Jakarta said: "We are delighted to confirm that Malcolm Primrose has been released. Embassy officials are with Mr Primrose and are providing consular assistance."

East Aceh district police chief Muhajir said he had picked up the Briton after he was discovered alone at a security checkpoint in the plantation. Security forces were still hunting for the kidnappers, he added.

Primrose had been working as a sub-contractor for a subsidiary of Indonesian oil and gas company Medco Energi Internasional.

He had been working on a drilling project to explore for gas in the jungles of resource-rich Aceh and Tuesday was meant to be his last day in the province, according to a source familiar with the case.

Muhajir said he suspected the kidnappers were former fighters from Aceh's three-decade separatist struggle.

The conflict ended in 2005, but observers have long warned that weapons left over from the fighting could pose a threat in the area.

There have been previous kidnappings in Aceh -- in 2008 five Chinese nationals were held hostage for two days. But in general abductions are rare in Indonesia.

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© 2013 AFP

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