Iain Strachan praises ‘fantastic’ Algerian army after being freed along with 100 foreign workers from In Amenas gas plant
A Scottish man held hostage in Algeria has spoken of his relief at being rescued.
Iain Strachan, 38, from Howwood in Renfrewshire, was among 100 foreign workers freed from terrorists who attacked a BP gas plant at In Amenas in southern Algeria on Thursday. Speaking on Algerian television, Strachan said he was “very relieved to be out”.
“Obviously we still don’t really know what’s happening back on site,” he said. “So, as much as we’re glad to be out, our thoughts are with colleagues who are still there at the moment.”
Strachan said the Algerian army’s assistance has been “fantastic”.
Another hostage, Mark Grant, 29, from Grangemouth in Falkirk, texted his wife to let her know he was safe.
The message read: “I’m safe. Got me out this afternoon. With the Algerian army.”
Alan Wright, 37, of Portsoy, Aberdeenshire, and Kenneth Whiteside, originally from Glenrothes, Fife, but now based in Johannesburg, South Africa, were also held in the attack.
The foreign secretary, William Hague, said the Algerian hostage crisis would remain the government’s “top priority” until every British national at the plant was accounted for.
Around 10 UK workers at the remote desert complex are thought still to be at risk as Algerian special forces continue to hunt the site for the remaining terrorists.
The Algerian state news agency, APS, reported that 12 foreign and Algerian workers and 18 Islamist militants had been killed.
About a dozen of the original group of 30 heavily armed terrorists could still be holed up at the complex, possibly still holding hostages.
APS reported that around 100 of the 132 foreign workers at the site had been freed along with 573 locally employed staff.
Meanwhile, Stephen McFaul’s return to his family in Belfast was delayed by snow. McFaul, 36, from west Belfast, escaped after being taken hostage at the complex where he was working as an electrical supervisor.
A spokesman for his family said McFaul had been flown into Gatwick airport on a specially chartered flight on Friday night. However, meetings with UK Foreign Office officials and snowy weather delayed the final leg of his journey. He is expected to arrive in Belfast on Saturday.
Despite having explosives placed around his neck, McFaul was able to escape when a vehicle he was in crashed after being attacked by the Algerian army, his brother Brian said.
He had been held for two days but made contact with his wife, Angela, at about 3pm on Thursday to say he was safe and well.