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hostage hails rescue heroes

In this undated image released Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013, by BP petroleum company, showing the Amenas natural gas field in the eastern central region of Algeria, where Islamist militants raided and took hostages Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013.  Islamist militants from Mali attacked the Amenas natural gas field partly operated by BP in Algeria early on Wednesday, killing a security guard and kidnapping at least eight people, including English, Norwegian and Japanese nationals, an Algerian security official and local media reported. Algerian forces, later caught up with and surrounded the kidnappers and negotiations for the release of the hostages are ongoing, officials said.(AP Photo/BP)

In this undated image released Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013, by BP petroleum company, showing the Amenas natural gas field in the eastern central region of Algeria, where Islamist militants raided and took hostages Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013. Islamist militants from Mali attacked the Amenas natural gas field partly operated by BP in Algeria early on Wednesday, killing a security guard and kidnapping at least eight people, including English, Norwegian and Japanese nationals, an Algerian security official and local media reported. Algerian forces, later caught up with and surrounded the kidnappers and negotiations for the release of the hostages are ongoing, officials said.(AP Photo/BP)

A Todmorden man freed from the Algerian hostage crisis has spoken of his experiences during the four-day siege.

Motor engineer Martin Johnson, a 62-year-old father of four, was among those rescued from the In Amenas gas plant in the desert before the siege was ended by an army raid.

Speaking on Algerian TV, he praised the country’s troops for their efforts.

“I think they did a fantastic job,” he said.

“I was very impressed with the Algerian army.

“I feel sorry for anybody who has been hurt.”

The siege at the gas facility in the Sahara desert ended on Saturday.

At least 23 hostages and 32 captors died in the four-day stand-off, according to Algerian officials.

News of Mr Johnson’s safe return has been welcomed in the local community.

Todmorden town councillor Michael Gill, a former partner of Mr Johnson’s sister-in-law, said: “He is a very pleasant guy, very easy going.

“It’s just nice to know that he is safe. I haven’t seen the family for many years but as soon as I saw his face on the TV I thought ‘Oh crikey, I know that man’.

“It was quite a surprise.”

Coun Gill said the last contact he had with Mr Johnson was about eight years ago.

Barry Clark, of Otley, knew Mr Johnson from when he lived in Skipton and was a mechanic for a rally team.

Both men were part of a team that took part in the Volkswagen Challenge in 1996.

“I saw him on the TV and the penny didn’t drop,” Mr Clark said.

“Then I was watching it the other night and I said to my wife ‘God, that’s Martin’.

“When he was being interviewed on the bus, he had his head down like he was a bit shy. He was always a bit quiet.”

The hostage crisis was discussed in Parliament on Monday.

Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker praised Prime Minister David Cameron and the Government for the way they handled the situation and asked what support is being provided the British nationals who were held hostage, and their families.

The In Amenas gas field is situated at Tigantourine, about 25 miles south-west of the town of In Amenas.

It is jointly run by BP, Norway’s Statoil and Algeria’s state-owned oil company.

 

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