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British hostage Robert Douglas Semple released from Al Qaeda in Yemen

The UAE has freed British hostage Robert Douglas Semple from his Al Qaeda kidnappers in Yemen after 18 months in custody.

ABU DHABI: The United Arab Emirates armed forces have rescued British hostage Robert Douglas Semple who had been held hostage for the last 18 months by Al Qaeda terrorists in Yemen.

Robert Douglas Semple (64) was kidnapped by Al Qaeda militants in February last year from Hadramawt in Yemen where he was employed as an oil engineer.

The UAE forces freed Robert Douglas Semple and flew him to Abu Dhabi on Saturday night where he was taken to hospital for checks. Semple later spoke to his wife on phone.

The UK Government has confirmed Robert Douglas Semple's rescue. "I'm pleased to confirm that a British hostage held in Yemen has been extracted by the UAE forces in a military intelligence operation," Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in a statement. Hammond was in Tehran at the time in connection with the reopening of the British embassy following the nuclear agreement between Iran and the West.

British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted, "I'm so pleased for the family of the British hostage in Yemen - who has been released safe and well. Thanks to the UAE for their help."

"Backed by the coalition, pro-government forces retook Aden in mid-July and in recent weeks have been pressing a major offensive against the Houthi rebels," reported Khaleej Times. Four more southern provinces have been captured. The battle is on for Yemen's third largest city, Taez.

The fighting in Yemen has taken a toll of 4,500 lives since March, according to the United Nations figures.

Recently, a French hostage, Isabelle Prime, who had been in terrorist custody for six months, was also released. A British teacher, Mike Harvey, was held for five months, last year. However, US journalist Luke Somers and South African teacher Pierre Korkie died while US commandos, who use drones in their Yemen operations, tried to rescue them.

The Houthis (Shiites), said to enjoy Iran support, had overrun the Capital of Sanaa last year. The Yemeni president had to go into exile in Saudi Arabia.

August 24, 2015

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