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Monday, 5 June, 2000, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
'Business as usual' for freed Scot
Mine clearance worker
Mr Fulford worked for anti-landmine charity Halo Trust
A Scot taken hostage in a remote part of Georgia has been released and will be back at work clearing landmines on Tuesday.

John Fulford, 29, from Edinburgh, was seized on Thursday with two United Nations officials from Denmark and a local aide

News of their release was met with jubilation from Mr Fulford's family and friends.

This will be an immense relief to him and his family

Foreign Secretary Robin Cook
His employers, landmine charity the Halo Trust, said the group would now be able to resume work.

The group was travelling as a United Nations patrol in the mountainous Kodor Gorge area of Abkhazia - a separatist region of Georgia.

The kidnappers are believed to have demanded a ransom of $300,000, but it is understood the hostages were freed without condition.

A fifth member of the group, an Abkhazian, was released on Saturday.

'Immense relief'

UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said: "I was delighted to learn of John's safe release today together with that of the others who were detained with him.

"This will be an immense relief to him and his family.

"I would like to thank the Georgian Government for all their help in securing the release of John and his fellow abductees."

Family and friends of Mr Fulford, from Edinburgh, have been celebrating his release with champagne.

Five-day ordeal

They joined Mr Fulford's mother Joan at the family home in Murrayfield Gardens in the city, which was decked with flags from 10 countries, including the Union Flag.

People arriving at the house said they were relieved the five-day ordeal was over and Mr Fulford was safe and well.

One neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: "We are all delighted - absolutely delighted.

"She (Mrs Fulford) hasn't managed to speak to him but she is just absolutely thrilled that he is safe and well as we all are.

"There are friends and neighbours in there and we are having a bit of a party at the moment and she is hoping for a phone call."

Government forces

Abkhazia is a small, north-western part of Georgia bordered by Russia and the Black Sea.

It has effectively been independent since separatists forced out government forces during a war in 1992-93.

Peace talks about the region's political future have been stalling and UN officers have been monitoring the ceasefire between the Georgian government in Tbilisi and separatist rebels.

Five UN observers, a UN doctor and a translator were taken hostage in the same area last October but all were freed without harm after two days.

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See also:

03 Jun 00 | Europe
UN hostage released in Abkhazia
01 Jun 00 | UK
Briton missing in Georgia
21 Dec 99 | Europe
UN returns to help Chechens
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