Crisis gives way to domestic trivia

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The Independent Online
The British hostages released by the Bosnian Serbs sounded relaxed and cheerful as they telephoned their families yesterday and obeyed orders by talking about domestic trivia rather than international crisis. They were also reunited with two soldiers who had remained in hospital in Zagreb after they were released.

The telephone at Lyn Hesketh's home in Gwernaffield, near Mold, North Wales, rang at 8.30am and the voice of her son, Fusilier Ioan Smith, 19, was reassuring, as though he had been on holiday and not been captured at gunpoint.

Mrs Hesketh said: "He was asking how all his mates were and he was more concerned about what was going on here rather than what had happened over there. He sounded all right, just like normal. I asked him about the leg he hurt when their vehicle crashed and he said that now they don't think it's broken, just very swollen. It was a big relief, it was smashing."

Brenda Richardson from Penisa'r-waun, near Llanberis, spent 20 minutes speaking to her son, Fusilier Jonathan Richardson, 21, who was also injured when one of the British soldiers' armoured personnel carriers crashed after they were taken hostage.

She said last night: "He said that the Serbs treated them well. It was a relief, it has been a horrible week. He was very concerned about us at home and how we had coped with the situation." Bernadette Williams, of Holyhead, Anglesey, screamed with delight when she heard her freed son Martin, 19, on the phone. She said: "He said the one thing they all wanted was for the others to be released as well."

The 11 Royal Welch Fusiliers who were released on Friday were under orders not to go into details about their time in captivity to avoid endangering the lives of their 22 comrades from the regiment and an RAF observer who are among 250 UN peace-keepers still held hostage.

They were allowed to telephone home after travelling on to Split from the Croatian capital Zagreb. Two of the more seriously injured soldiers rested overnight in hospital in Zagreb but were reunited with the others yesterday.

All the freed men said they would not be celebrating their release until the other Britons had been set free.

Fusilier Karl Frowen, 20, spent half an hour chatting to his girlfriend Louise Parker, in Rhymney, Cardiff, yesterday. She said: "It was brilliant to hear Karl's voice after all the worry of the past week."

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