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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 November, 2003, 13:30 GMT
Hostage makes video appeal
Mark Henderson
Mr Henderson's captors have warned against a rescue attempt
A British backpacker being held hostage in the Colombian jungle has appeared on a video tape released by his captors.

Mark Henderson, of Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire, is one of seven foreign nationals being held by the National Liberation Army (ELN).

The group were seized on 12 September while hiking in the mountains visiting the Lost City of the Sierra Nevada.

A second Briton, Matthew Scott, escaped 10 days after being taken hostage by diving off a cliff.

As you can see my beard has grown and I've got thinner. I've started smoking again but desperate times, desperate measures
Mark Henderson

Mr Henderson appeared in good health ahead of his 32nd birthday on 16 November.

He said: "To mum and dad, James, Emma and the kids and all my family and friends.

"I want to tell you that I'm okay and being treated well.

"As you can see my beard has grown and I've got thinner. I've started smoking again but desperate times, desperate measures.

"I hope you are putting whatever pressure you can on the government to get me out of here as it has been almost eight weeks now."

Playing cards

Mr Henderson's mother Sharelle told BBC News Online the family were delighted to receive fresh news of their son.

She said: "I'm just pleased to see him as it is the first time we have heard from him since Matthew escaped.

"The fact that he has taken up smoking has tickled everyone.

"Mark knows what his dad thinks about that but it is showing his sense of humour.

Israelis Beni Daniel, Ortaz Ohayon, Ido Joseph Guy, and Erez Altawil
Spaniard Asier Huegun
Briton Mark Henderson
German Reinhilt Weigel

"Hopefully we will see him soon.

"It's his birthday on Sunday so we will be thinking of him even more."

A German and Spaniard being held by the group appeared on the tape to appeal for government help to secure their freedom.

Four Israeli captives were also shown drinking coffee and playing cards flanked by armed guards.

The ELN is negotiating with the Colombian government over the potential release of the hostages through mediators from the Roman Catholic Church.

But a guerrilla spokesman warned against a rescue attempt and said: "The unit in the area has orders not to permit a rescue, in the sense that, they will execute the detainees."

The BBC's Ben Brown
"The hostages have endured long marches"

Colombia hostages shown on video
12 Nov 03  |  Americas
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31 Oct 03  |  Americas
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27 Sep 03  |  Americas
Parents await news of kidnap son
25 Sep 03  |  North Yorkshire

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