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Brit Oilman Seized By Yemen Gun Mob; Sobbing wife begs for his freedom.

THE distraught wife of a kidnapped British oil worker last night pleaded for his return after he was seized at gunpoint in the Yemen.

Heartbroken Katherine Brooke sobbed: "I just pray to God that I will see him again."

Husband John, 46, was snatched by three heavily armed men who broke into his oil compound and demanded: "Bring me the head of a Briton."

He was dragged away and thrown into the back of a van which was then driven off at high speed into the desert.

Mrs Brooke, 45, told how John had been ambushed at gunpoint by Yemeni terrorists just a year ago.

She said: "They attacked him on the road to the airport. They took everything - his truck, his money and his belongings.

"It put the fear of God into us and we always dreaded that something like this would happen again.

" He is a manager for his firm and they are always targets. I desperately want him back with me - it is as simple as that. He has got a father who is in a wheelchair and a maiden aunt who is very ill."

Mr Brooke, who works for top American engineering company Halliburton, was snatched from a compound in the north of Yemen.

Western correspondent Danny McGrory, who witnessed the kidnapping, said: "Three armed men broke into the compound and said they were looking for a British citizen. They threatened security forces hired by the company, then put Mr Brooke into the back of a vehicle and drove away.

"They were followed into the desert by the company's security guards but managed to escape."

Late last night no ransom demand had been made for Mr Brooke's release and sources in the country said his abduction was a "sinister development".

The kidnapping comes less than two weeks after British tourists Margaret Whitehouse, Peter Rowe and Ruth Williamson were shot dead when Yemeni security forces launched an attack to release a group of 16 Western hostages.

The hardline Islamic Jihad, furious at the bombing of Iraq by Britain and America, was blamed for that kidnapping.

And Foreign Office sources believed international terrorist Osama bin Laden - the multi- millionaire behind the bombing of two Western embassies in Africa - may also have been involved.

Last night the Foreign Office ordered a review of its advice to Britons in the country.

A spokesman said the British Embassy was arranging an urgent meeting with the Yemeni Ministry of Interior.

Concerned

Since last month's kidnapping and murders the FO has advised tourists and businessmen not to travel to Yemen unless it is a life and death situation.

Britons currently working in Yemen have been advised to keep in close contact with the British embassy in case the situation changes.

Mr Brooke, of Langley, Norwich, had worked in the country for 10 years. He and his wife have no children.

Mrs Brooke added last night: "You hear of this sort of thing happening out there and I was concerned for him.

"But it just a terrible, terrible thing when you are told that your husband has been taken."
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jan 10, 1999
Words:515
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