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'I've never been so relieved as when they came and got us'

A SCOT said he had never been so relieved as when he was rescued by Algerian forces who mounted an armed assault to release hostages held at a BP gas plant.

The man, understood to be gas plant worker Iain Strachan from Howwood, Renfrewshire, was one of 100 foreign hostages released yesterday following the Algerian military raid on the gas compound at In Amenas on the eastern periphery of the northern African country.

Mr Strachan was among at least three Scottish residents caught up in the incident and now safe.

The Scot, along with four other British hostages, spoke on Algerian TV of their relief at being freed. The interviews talked up the army's role in their release in the wake of growing concern Algeria acted alone without discussion with other affected states.

Asked what he thought of the army's help, he said: "Fantastic. I have never been so relieved as when they came and got us off site. So we thank them very much for that."

First Minister Alex Salmond confirmed yesterday all Scottish workers being kept hostage by militants in Algeria were safe and well as the first details of their identities emerged.

Scots MP Jim Sheridan said he had been in contact with the Foreign Office about the fate of Mr Strachan, an electrician.

Mr Sheridan said his information was Mr Strachan was safe and had made contact with his family.

He said: "I have spoken to the Foreign Office and they have told me that he's safe and on his way to Sicily. He has been in touch with his family.

"The Foreign Office did not know how he was travelling, and we do not know his method of transport.

"I'm delighted that he's safe and that he's out of there. But I'm also sorry for families who have lost loved ones in this disaster."

In the village of Howwood yesterday, Mr Strachan's family were unavailable for comment.

One resident, who asked not to be named, said: "It's such a horrendous situation, our hopes are obviously that everyone involved makes it home safe and well."

Friends were celebrating after it emerged another Scottish worker, Mark Grant from Grangemouth, was now with the Algerian army.

Mr Grant, 29, was among dozens taken hostage by Islamist militants when they stormed the desert base on Wednesday.

The father-of-one has been employed as a contracts administrator for BP at the In Amenas complex for more than two-and-a-half years. He married Emma, a 31-year-old sales administrator, at Glenbervie House Hotel in Larbert in March 2010. Relatives have been urged not to break their silence amid safety concerns for those still held captive.

Earlier, it had been claimed, two Scots were still being held prisoner, including a father-of-two from Fife who lives in South Africa.

Mr Salmond, whose Government is liaising with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said: "The full extent of the Algerian hostage crisis is still not known, but this is a tragic situation and our thoughts at this time are with the families of all those who have been caught up in events in Algeria.

"We are not confirming numbers or other details at this stage as the situation continues to be fluid and is not yet resolved.

"However, our police service has confirmed a number of people identified as resident in Scotland, who had been held captive in the In Amenas facility, and of whom I spoke yesterday in Parliament, have been confirmed as safe and well.

"The Scottish police forces involved have all done an excellent job in difficult circumstances in identifying those individuals who live in Scotland and contacting their families.

"We continue to work closely with the UK Government to monitor the situation and stand ready to offer any assistance we possibly can. Our thoughts remain with all of those who are affected by this tragedy."

Contextual targeting label: 
Families

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