BANDA ACEH: A British energy worker kidnapped in the restive Indonesian province of Aceh has been released unharmed after just one day in captivity, embassy and police officials said Thursday.
Malcolm Primrose was abducted on Tuesday by a group of armed men who stopped his car as he was being driven to a work site in Lubuk Pempeng, a village in East Aceh district, at around 11:00 am (0400 GMT).
The kidnappers tied up his Indonesian driver before taking Primrose away in their car.
Primrose, in his early 60s, phoned his Indonesian wife on Wednesday evening to convey a ransom demand from his captors, provincial police spokesman Gustav Leo told AFP.
“But it seems that later in the night, the kidnappers changed their mind and released him without accepting any ransom,” he said.
“They released him in the middle of a palm oil plantation in the Perlak area of East Aceh district. Police found him this morning in a good condition. He was unharmed.”
A spokesman for the British embassy in Jakarta said: “We are delighted to confirm that Malcolm Primrose has been released. Embassy officials are with Mr. Primrose and are providing consular assistance.”
East Aceh district police chief Muhajir, who goes by one name, said that he had picked up the Briton after he was discovered alone at a security checkpoint in the plantation.
“Security forces are still hunting for the kidnappers,” he said.
Primrose had been working as a sub-contractor for a subsidiary of Indonesian oil and gas company Medco Energi Internasional. A company spokesman also confirmed his release.
Authorities had launched a massive search for Primrose, with more than 150 police and soldiers deployed to hunt for him.
He had been working on a drilling project to explore for gas in the jungles of resource-rich Aceh and Tuesday was meant to be his last day in the province, according to a source familiar with the case.
Kidnappings are rare in Indonesia, and it is not yet clear who abducted Primrose. Police said Thursday they did not have any more information about who the kidnappers might be.
Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra island, was the site of a bloody separatist war for three decades and observers have long warned that firearms left over from the conflict could present a security threat.
The conflict between rebels and the central government came to an end with the signing of a 2005 peace deal, which gave Aceh broad autonomy that has allowed it to implement Islamic law, the only Indonesian province to do so.