Bob Semple: British hostage free after 18 months in Yemen 'delighted and relieved' to be home

The 64-year-old was kidnapped by al-Qaeda while working as an oil engineer

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The Independent Online

A British hostage has said he is "delighted and relieved" to be back home after he was held by al-Qaeda for 18 months in Yemen.

Bob Semple, 64, was extracted by United Arab Emirates forces after a military intelligence operation, with David Cameron briefed on the mission by the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince.

Militants from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula captured Mr Semple in February 2014 when he was working as a petroleum engineer in the Yemeni province of Hadramawt.

In a statement released via the Foreign Office, he said: "I am delighted and relieved to be back home safely and to be reunited with my family after such a long time.

"My wife Sallie and I want to thank all the people who supported us through this ordeal: especially the Foreign Office, Hostage UK, the police, our family, friends and well wishers, and the UAE forces who secured my release. We are incredibly grateful to you all.

"We would also like to thank the media for showing restraint during my 18 months in captivity, and I ask that this continues, allowing me to enjoy some valuable and much missed time with my family. It is great to be home."

After Mr Semple's release was confirmed, video emerged which appeared to show the Briton pleading for his life on 31 August last year, seven months after he was captured. The footage was posted to YouTube by Arab broadcaster AlziandiQ8, but not widely reported.

In the video, a blindfolded man believed to be Mr Semple speaks with his head lowered, saying: "My name is Bob Semple. I am a British subject working in Yemen for a royal services company, Intracs Middle East Limited.

"Please, British or Yemen, please help me to get back to my family. I have been captive for seven months and my situation is not good. These guys are going to kill me, soon, I think."

The footage has still not been verified as authentic by British or foreign authorities.

Additional reporting by agencies