Ecuador kidnapping of North Yorkshire businessman financially motivated – police

Colin Armstrong with Ecuadorean police
Image caption,Ecuadorean police posted on social media that Mr Armstrong had been found

The kidnapping of a North Yorkshire businessman in Ecuador was financially motivated, police in the country said.

Colin Armstrong, 78, was abducted on Saturday from a farm he owned near the city of Guayaquil.

Mr Armstrong, who owns the Forbidden Corner visitor attraction in the Yorkshire Dales, is also the president of Ecuadorean agriculture firm Agripac.

Police in Ecuador said more than 30 homes had been raided in their search for Mr Armstrong.

Leo Morris, Mr Armstrong’s spokesman, confirmed on Wednesday he had been released and was with authorities in Ecuador.

Speaking at a press conference in Quito, General Cesar Zapata, Commander General of the National Police, said Mr Armstrong had been freed after a four-day search, the Reuters news agency reported.

Commander General of the National Police, Cesar Zapata
Image caption,Commander General of the National Police, Cesar Zapata, spoke to reporters in Quito, Ecuador

Nine people were apprehended in the operation – one foreigner and eight Ecuadoreans, he said.

General Zapata told reporters the kidnapping was believed to have been financially motivated.

A Colombian woman was kidnapped along with Mr Armstrong before she was abandoned in a residential area of Guayaquil with fake explosives attached to her, he added.

The police chief said officers carried out more than 30 raids on homes during the search for him, finding grenades, firearms, ammunition and drugs.

They also found a vehicle believed to have been used in the kidnapping.

Ecuador’s Interior Minister Monica Palencia said: “We will not allow impunity. Police actions continue.”

Colin Armstrong
Image caption,Colin Armstrong founded North Yorkshire attraction The Forbidden Corner

Posting on X, formerly Twitter, Chris Campbell, the British Ambassador in Ecuador, said on Wednesday he was “delighted” Mr Armstrong had been “safely released”.

The businessman would be spending Christmas with his family in South America, his spokesman said.

Mr Armstrong was awarded the OBE and Companions of the Order of St Michael and St George for services to the British Monarchy in 2011.

He was a former UK honorary consul to Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, a voluntary role which involved supporting British interests and providing support to British nationals who found themselves in difficulty.

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