[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 23 October 2006, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
Sacrifice fear of freed hostages
Graeme Buchan
Freed hostage Graeme Buchan told how a gun was put to his head
Scottish oil workers held hostage for nearly three weeks in Nigeria have said they feared being "sacrificed".

Graeme Buchan, Paul Smith, George McLean and Sandy Cruden had been seized by armed militants.

Mr Buchan said he was even forced at gunpoint to tell his employers Mr Smith was dead.

Mr Buchan, speaking at Aberdeen Airport, said: "The gun at my head may have uncovered a talent for acting I did not know I had."

Mr Buchan, alongside Mr Cruden and Mr Smith, who work for Sparrows Offshore in Aberdeen, touched down in Aberdeen Airport on Monday morning.

We kept each other's spirits up. We did start to get more concerned
Graeme Buchan
Freed hostage

Mr Smith's wife Paula had feared the worst after earlier reports claimed he was dead.

Mr Buchan revealed: "I gather there has been a lot of speculation about how poor Paula Smith came to be told that Paul had died.

"I am afraid that may have been my fault.

"I was beaten again and ordered at gunpoint to call my Sparrows' chief executive and tell him Paul had died."

Festival sacrifice

He said of the kidnap that the men, who were firing AK47 rifles and pistols in the air, took them from a bar and ferried them in speedboats to a camp some eight hours away.

He said they received rice and water but did not have any malaria tablets.

Mr Buchan said: "We were held together and we kept each other's spirits up. We did start to get more concerned."

He said the lowest point was when their captors told them they were to be taken to a festival to be sacrificed.

Paula Smith with son Jordan
It has been an anxious wait for Paula Smith and her children
Mr Buchan added: "We now know there were a lot of senior and professional people working to get us out. We are very grateful to them.

"I do not know whether their demands were political or financial."

Mrs Smith had described how she was hysterical after she received an "unbelievable" phone call from her husband Paul who she had feared was dead.

The union Amicus has issued advice to oil workers in the UK who may be planning to go to the region.

Regional officer Graham Tran said: "Think twice before you put yourself or your family through this ordeal.

"Other militant groups, not just in Nigeria, will be looking at what's happened here.

"It's time to sit back, focus, get the security aspects sorted out."

The men were taken hostage earlier this month when gunmen raided a residential compound housing expatriate oil workers in the Niger Delta.

They were kidnapped along with another three oil workers from Romania, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Two Nigerian security guards were killed in the raid.

Mr Buchan on being forced to say colleague was dead

Hostage wife speaks of her relief
22 Oct 06 |  North East/N Isles
Q&A: Nigeria's oil violence
05 Oct 06 |  Africa

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific