Briton kidnapped in Indonesia's Aceh: officials

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia - Gunmen have kidnapped a British man working for an energy company in the restive Indonesian province of Aceh, officials said Wednesday.

Malcolm Primrose was being driven to a work site on Tuesday when he was stopped by a group of armed men at around 11:00 am (12:00 am local time) in Lubuk Pempeng village, East Aceh district, officials said.

"The man was on his way to a drilling site when at least four men with firearms stopped his car," provincial police spokesman Gustav Leo told AFP.

The kidnappers tied up his driver before taking the Briton to their car and driving off, he said, adding that details of the incident came from the driver, an Indonesian.

"We are pursuing the kidnappers based on the witness's testimony. We don't know yet their motive."

A source familiar with the matter said that the oil and gas company Primrose was working for, Medco Energi Internasional, had not yet received any ransom demand.

The British embassy in Jakarta said in a statement: "We can confirm a British national was involved in an incident in Aceh yesterday. We are in touch with the local authorities and his family. An embassy team has deployed to the area. "

The man, in his early 60s, had been working as a sub-contractor for a subsidiary of Medco Energi Internasional, which confirmed the kidnapping.

A worker "of British nationality was taken by force from his car by an unknown group of people near a working area on Tuesday around 11:00 am", said the company's corporate secretary, Imron Gazali, in a statement.

"The firm conveyed its deep concern to the worker's family and will continue to make the greatest effort possible for the person to be returned to his family as soon as possible," he said.

The source said that the man had been working on a drilling project to explore for gas in the jungles of the resource-rich province, and Tuesday was meant to be his last day in Aceh.

Primrose's profile on professional networking website LinkedIn said that he was working as a senior drilling supervisor.

Kidnappings are rare in Indonesia, and it was not immediately clear who might have abducted him.

Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra island, was the site of a bloody separatist war for three decades and observers have long warned that firearms left over from the conflict could present a security threat.

The conflict between rebels and the central government came to an end in 2005 when a peace deal was struck. Under the agreement, Aceh was granted broad autonomy which has allowed it to implement Islamic sharia laws, the only province in Indonesia to do so.

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