Yemenis kidnap another Briton

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The Independent Online
A BRITISH oil worker was kidnapped in Yemen yesterday, less than two weeks after three Britons and an Australian were shot dead as Yemeni security forces stormed the kidnappers' stronghold to release hostages.

A Foreign Office spokesman said that the British ambassador had received assurances from Yemen's prime minister that no force would be used to try to rescue John Brooke, from East Anglia, who is employed by the US oil services company Halliburton.

Mr Brooke's wife, Katherine, said tonight that the kidnappers had cut a hole in the compound fence to take her 46-year-old husband. "He has always had protection, always had an armed guard," she said. "Obviously he didn't put up any resistance when they broke in, there was no point as they can bargain with him. Hopefully that will happen."

Mr Brooke, who has no children, had worked in Yemen for 12 years. He was a manager for Halliburton with about 60 people working under him, and was involved in the final stages of drilling for oil, she said from the couple's home in Norwich.

"I rang John about a week ago because he was worried but he couldn't speak on the phone," she said. "He got on well with the local Yemenis."

Her husband was due to be away for five weeks on his latest stint in Yemen and was to return home next Thursday, she said. The Foreign Office had not yet made any contact with the kidnappers, she added.

Halliburton said Mr Brooke was taking an evening stroll around the compound when he noticed a hole in the fence and was snatched by four men when he went to investigate. It was not clear if the men were inside the compound or dragged Mr Brooke through the hole, said a company spokesman.

Shadow foreign secretary Michael Howard said the kidnapping was "very distressing. I hope that on this occasion the Foreign Office will do everything that can be done without any delay or confusion," he said.

The news of the latest kidnapping came as Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, demanded full consular access to five British citizens detained in Aden on charges of sabotage.