UAE forces rescue British hostage in Yemen

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Forces from the United Arab Emirates have rescued a British hostage held for more than a year by al Qaeda in Yemen, authorities in London and Abu Dhabi said on Sunday.

A statement carried by the UAE’s official WAM news agency said 64-year-old Douglas Robert Semple, a petroleum engineer, had been kidnapped by al Qaeda in February 2014 in Yemen’s vast desert Hadramawt province.

It said UAE forces had freed Semple in a military operation and taken him to Yemen’s main southern city of Aden, from where he was flown to Abu Dhabi. It provided no further details about the operation.

The Foreign Office in London confirmed that a British hostage in Yemen had been freed by UAE forces but did not identify him and also provided no further details.

“I’m pleased to confirm that a British hostage held in Yemen has been extracted by UAE forces in a military intelligence operation,” Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in a statement released while he was in Tehran to reopen the British embassy.

Hammond added that the freed hostage was “safe and well” and that Britain was “very grateful for the assistance of the UAE”.