Student who escaped Colombian guerrillas tells of shock at kidnap

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The Independent Online

The British gap year student who escaped from armed guerillas and survived for 12 days in the Colombian jungle has spoken for the first time about his ordeal.

Matthew Scott, 19, has just started an engineering degree at Oxford University. He had been kidnapped with seven other travellers, including fellow Briton Mark Henderson at the remains of the Lost City in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Mr Scott revealed that when he was confronted by two men in his tent one morning, he first thought they were robbers. The truth finally dawned on him when he saw another 16 or 17 armed militiamen with machine-guns. "That was quite a shock. At this point, I realised I might be in trouble," he told The Daily Telegraph.

He added: "To be honest, my first thought was 'I'm being kidnapped, oh my God, what a story'. You read about this sort of thing but now it was actually happening. Nobody - and I mean nobody - grasped the seriousness of the situation."

Mr Scott, the youngest of the group to be kidnapped, explained that, initially, his friends thought the kidnappers were from the FARC guerilla organisation but it was later discovered he and his friends were in the hands of the National Liberation Army.

Mr Scott also downplayed any talk of his courage as he related how he tried to "play the compassion card" with the leader of the guerillas.

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