Kidnapped Scots oil worker released unharmed

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A Scots oil worker who was kidnapped earlier this week in the Indonesian province of Aceh has been released unharmed by his captors.

Malcolm Primrose, who is originally from Stirling, was renunited yesterday with his Indonesian wife.

As a search by over 150 Indonesian police officers and military personnel was being carried out, Mr Primrose’s captors released him unharmed.  It appears that no ransom was paid.  It remains uncertain whether Mr Primrose’s kidnappers had a political motive or if they were simply an armed criminal gang.

Until 2004 Aceh province, at the northern tip of the large island of Sumatra, was the scene of an armed conflict between the Indonesian government and ethnic Aceh rebels who sought independence for the region. 

The religiously conservative area was the first part of what is now Indonesia to convert to Islam, and remains culturally and linguistically distinct from the rest of the country.   The discovery of huge reserves of oil and gas in the 1970s sparked off demands for independence or greater autonomy, which were rebuffed by Indonesia, setting off an armed uprising which lasted almost 30 years.

Following the devastation caused by the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, Aceh rebels and the Indonesian government reached a tentative peace agreement which granted the province a special status within Indonesia and considerable home rule.  Although the region is now largely peaceful, there are still problems with armed criminal gangs and elements of former rebel groups who have refused to accept the peace accords.