Kidnappers free tycoon's widow after her friends raise ransom cash

 

Even while being ushered across a desolate Somali airstrip to the small plane waiting to fly her to freedom yesterday, Judith Tebbutt's release from seven months of captivity was shrouded in uncertainty.

Amid suggestions that the local officials were becoming obstructive, the ex-special forces chaperone put a protective arm around Mrs Tebbutt and sprinted with her to the aircraft.

Within two hours, Mrs Tebbutt, 56, whose publishing executive husband David was killed by her kidnappers in a raid on a luxury resort on the Kenyan coast last September, had been delivered to British embassy officials in Nairobi.

The kidnappers are thought to have shot Mr Tebbutt, an executive for Faber & Faber, as he tried to protect his wife. Mrs Tebbutt said news of her husband's death was broken to her by her son two weeks later.

Voice faltering, she said: "I feel extremely sad...He was a good man. That was very unfortunate. Really horrible. But you've just got to pick up the pieces and move on."

She was reunited with her son in Nairobi and was due to board a flight to London yesterday evening.

Her release by the criminal gang, took place only after a ransom was delivered in an air drop earlier this week.

Negotiators prefer to keep details of ransoms secret in case they encourage more abductions. But the amount paid was yesterday claimed by a spokesman for the kidnappers to have been $1.1m (£694,000) to $940,000.

The Tebbut family said yesterday that the sum was raised after "a lot of people clubbed together".

UK Foreign Office officials repeated the government's stance that it does not sanction ransom payments and said it was not involved in negotiations to secure Mrs Tebbutt's release.

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