Sierra Leone hostages celebrate their freedom

DAZED, TEARFUL but relieved to be safe, the four British aid workers held hostage in the Liberian jungle arrived late last night in Conakry, the capital of Guinea.

The Britons - Dr Mike Roe, 33, from London, midwife Sara Nam, 30, of Carmarthen, west Wales, logistics expert David Heed, 26, of Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, and Peter Colenso, 28, an education expert from Surrey - looked tired but unharmed. They and the two other expatriate aid workers freed with them, an Italian and a Norwegian, were kept away from the press.

Francoise Saibe, a spokeswoman for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which organised the airlift from the eastern Guinean town of Kissidougou, said the six were "healthy, happy but concerned about those they left behind".

After an emotional welcome from colleagues waiting on the tarmac, they were led through the airport building, where formalities were waived. All their belongings, including passports, had remained in Kalahun, Liberia, where they were captured last Wednesday.

Patrick O'Brien, a Foreign Office representative who flew from Kissidougou with the aid workers, said they had shown "true British grit" and were "amazingly cheerful" after their five-day ordeal. He expected them to fly back to Europe in the next few days. Three of the four Britons work for Merlin, a British-based medical charity, while Mr Colenso is employed by the US-based International Rescue Committee.

Ms Saibe said they would receive counselling in Conakry from a special team, flown out from Belgium, for up to 48 hours, although another aid official said: "I understand they were never subjected to violence and their captors were courteous and polite all the time."