26/09/2003

Kidnapped student returns home from Colombia

The British backpacker who evaded armed guerrillas in the Colombia jungle has returned to the UK.

Escaping his captors by jumping over a cliff and sliding down a ravine to the river below, 19-year-old Mathew Scott made his way to a village after spending 12 days in the Colombian jungle.

Matthew shared an emotional reunion with his close family today at Heathrow airport today as the tired but relieved gap-year student hugged his parents after stepping off the plane.

However, at a press conference he said that he was concerned about the other seven hostages still held by the kidnappers in Colombia.

He related how the Colombian Army had then met him at a native village, and how he was ferried by an army helicopter to nearby army base. But he was reluctant to reveal too much about his ordeal due to concerns about the other hostages.

Matthew is due to resume his studies for an engineering degree course later this month.

Colombian authorities are still searching for the remaining seven members of the 15-strong trekking party who were set upon on a trail to the popular "Lost City" in north of the country.

The armed men chose the eight fittest and best equipped in the party, leaving the others shaken but unharmed in the cabin where they had been spending the night on the trail.

(SP)

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