Friends of Scottish hostage speak of relief at his safety

Mark Grant and his wife, Emma. Picture: Hemedia
Mark Grant and his wife, Emma. Picture: Hemedia
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FRIENDS of a Scots oil worker caught up in the Algerian hostage crisis have spoken of their relief after hearing that he is safe and well.

Mark Grant’s Facebook page has been flooded with messages from friends since he contacted his family in Grangemouth to confirm that he is safe.

The popular 29-year-old, who is employed by BP as a project services contracts administrator, is understood to be with the Algerian army – but it is not yet clear if he was freed, rescued by Algerian forces, or managed to escape.

Among the messages on Mark’s Facebook page is one from friend Chris Edwards, who said: “Glad to hear you’re safe mate. Nightmare stuff. Hope you’re ok and back with the 
family soon.”

Benjamin O’Reilly added: “Heard about the troubles in Algeria, would never have thought it was someone from Grangemouth – glad you’re ok.”

Meanwhile, Kirsty Leah Buchanan posted: “There’s a hell of a lot of folk gonna be right chuffed to see you!”

The father-of-one, who is known as Grantsy, is a former pupil of Grangemouth High School and an avid Rangers fan.

He is planning to take part in the Edinburgh half-marathon in May, with friends lightening the mood on his Facebook page by referring to the preparation he has been doing for the race.

Niall Quirk said: “I hear your training for the marathon done you well! Glad to hear you’re safe and well bud.”

Yesterday the Evening News told how Mark’s wife Emma, 30, had made a tearful appeal for his safe return, saying: “Please, I just want him to come home safe. We’ve got a little girl to think about.”

Shortly after militants stormed the In Amenas gas plant on Wednesday morning, Emma is thought to have spoken to her husband.

But her fears were building as she had not heard from him since so a text message from Mark – which read, ‘I’m safe. Got me out this afternoon. With the Algerian army’ – is understood to have been a welcome relief to his family who had been awaiting news.

Mark took up the role of project services contracts administrator for BP more than two and a half years ago.

He had previously worked as a site quantity surveyor with Shell for more than 18 months before his switch to the In Amenas project.

Yesterday, First Minister Alex Salmond confirmed that “a number” of Scots who had been taken hostage in the Algerian gas plant were safe and well. Two Scots were earlier said to have been among four foreign hostages freed by the Algerian military.

One of the Scottish hostages has spoken of his relief at “being out”.

But in an interview with Algerian TV, the man, named only as Ian, said his thoughts were with colleagues still being held.

He said: “We still don’t know what is happening back on site, so as much as we’re glad to be out, our thoughts are with colleagues who are still there. But, I’m very relieved.

“I’ve never been so relieved as when they [the Algerian army] came and got us off site, so we thank them very much for that.”

It is unclear whether Mark was one of the two hostages who were rescued.

Algeria’s state news agency said 12 hostages have been killed since the start of the operation to free workers kidnapped by Islamic militants at the natural gas plant in the Sahara.

The APS news agency quoted an unidentified security source for the new death toll and said the fatalities included both Algerian and foreign workers. APS also said that 18 of the hostage takers had been killed.