SAS ready to rescue kidnapped Britons

SAS ready to rescue kidnapped Britons

LONDON- Britain has prepared a crack Special Air Service (SAS) team to rescue five Britons feared kidnapped in Ethiopia, if diplomatic efforts to release them fail, press reports said yesterday.

Some 60 SAS troops have already been dispatched to neighbouring Djibouti, the Daily Mirror reported, while the Times talked of a “substantial” team and the Guardian said special forces were already in Ethiopia itself. The missing people, all linked to Britain’s embassy in Addis Ababa, were kidnapped last Thursday in the remote Afar desert region near the Eritrean border, according to the Ethiopian state news agency.A British foreign office spokesperson told AFP it was believed all five were British nationals.The Mirror said that the crack troops preparing to go in if necessary are from the SAS’s standby squadron, which was set up to respond to crises around the world at a moment’s notice.”It will be very similar to the rescue operation against militia known as the West Side Boys in Sierra Leone, who kidnapped 11 British soldiers in 2000,” the paper quoted former SAS sergeant Chris Ryan as saying.The foreign office confirmed said efforts were continuing to secure the safe return of the group.”It is (the) top priority to get the safe return and they are continuing to do everything they can to secure a successful outcome.”They are doing everything they can in Ethiopia and talking with the people in the region,” said a ministry spokesperson.The ministry of defence never comments on SAS operations but the newspaper said the troops will be accompanied by two Chinook helicopters containing Land Rovers, motorbikes and weapons adapted for the hostile terrain.It claimed that the last time a whole SAS squadron was moved together was to London after the July 5, 2005 suicide bombings on the British capital’s public transport network.The SAS standby squadron is made up of soldiers from Britain’s global counter-terrorist team, which was set up during the sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland.French foreign legion troops, which has soldiers in Djibouti, could provide back-up in any “snatch” operation, it added.Nampa-AFPThe missing people, all linked to Britain’s embassy in Addis Ababa, were kidnapped last Thursday in the remote Afar desert region near the Eritrean border, according to the Ethiopian state news agency.A British foreign office spokesperson told AFP it was believed all five were British nationals.The Mirror said that the crack troops preparing to go in if necessary are from the SAS’s standby squadron, which was set up to respond to crises around the world at a moment’s notice.”It will be very similar to the rescue operation against militia known as the West Side Boys in Sierra Leone, who kidnapped 11 British soldiers in 2000,” the paper quoted former SAS sergeant Chris Ryan as saying.The foreign office confirmed said efforts were continuing to secure the safe return of the group.”It is (the) top priority to get the safe return and they are continuing to do everything they can to secure a successful outcome.”They are doing everything they can in Ethiopia and talking with the people in the region,” said a ministry spokesperson.The ministry of defence never comments on SAS operations but the newspaper said the troops will be accompanied by two Chinook helicopters containing Land Rovers, motorbikes and weapons adapted for the hostile terrain.It claimed that the last time a whole SAS squadron was moved together was to London after the July 5, 2005 suicide bombings on the British capital’s public transport network.The SAS standby squadron is made up of soldiers from Britain’s global counter-terrorist team, which was set up during the sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland.French foreign legion troops, which has soldiers in Djibouti, could provide back-up in any “snatch” operation, it added.Nampa-AFP

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