'It was like The Great Escape': how Scot fled terrorists - video

Jan 21, 2013

Algerian workers helped disguise Alan Wright, cut the perimeter wires and led him to freedom

AS THE DEATH toll from the Algerian hostage crisis rises to more than 80, one British has told how he escaped the besieged gas plant with the help of Algerian workers who, having been told by the terrorists they were free to leave, risked their lives to help the westerners escape.

Alan Wright, 37, from Portsoy, Aberdeenshire, took refuge in a kitchen at the facility at In Amenas as the drama unfolded. There were three westerners and around 20 Algerians with him. They put paper over the windows so they could not be seen.

"Residents were ordered by the terrorists to check the offices for foreign workers, but they did not betray Mr Wright and the others," The Times reports.

After 24 hours spent hiding in the kitchen, the group made a break for it. The Algerians helped disguise them before cutting through the two perimeter wires. "The wire tension makes such a noise when it breaks, and you knew it travelled to where the terrorists were," Wright told Sky News (see video below).

"But within 30 seconds they had both fences open... It was like The Great Escape. We all climbed through the fence and ran into the desert as gunfire chattered behind us, as the fighting went on.”

However, a kilometre into the desert they were accosted by men in uniform. Having been warned that the terrorists were dressed as security guards, they feared for their lives. "You don't know if it's the terrorists or the gendarmes," said Wright.

When the uniformed men started them calling them up one by one, and the westerners and Algerians were separated, he thought he had made the "biggest mistake" of his life. However, the men turned out to be Algerian soldiers and they were taken to safety.

Wright, a health and safety specialist at the In Amenas plant, is now back home with his wife and two children in Scotland.

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