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DATE=11/8/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=ANGOLA / HOSTAGE APPEAL TEXT NUMBER=2-255930 BYLINE=ALEX BELIDA DATELINE=JOHANNESBURG CONTENT= VOICED AT: ///EDS: THE FOLLOWING IS THE TRANSCRIPT OF AN EXCLUSIVE VOA/// INTRO: Karen Larsen, the wife of Douglas Larsen, a South African metallurgist missing since unidentified gunmen attacked the diamond mine where he was working in northeastern Angola one year ago today, has issued a statement appealing for her husband's release and the release of three other men believed to have been abducted with him: British geologist Jason Pope and Filipino mechanics Wilfred Amoges and Roberto Baptista. Karen Larsen made the following statement in an (exclusive) interview from her Cape Town home with V-O-A Johannesburg Correspondent Alex Belida. TEXT: (Of Karen Larsen Statement) A year ago today, I was counting the days until my husband came home. He had three weeks of his contract in Angola left. Despite his love for his job and the country where he had worked for the last 18 months, he was tired and wanted to spend more time with his family. We were looking forward to our wedding anniversary and a relaxed Christmas. We had spoken about this by satellite phone only two nights before. As I lay sleeping peacefully in the early hours of that fateful Sunday morning, I was unaware that the Yetwene diamond mine where he was working had been attacked by a group of heavily armed men and that he and nine of his colleagues were being marched off at gunpoint into the surrounding jungle. I was completely unprepared for the nightmare that would follow as the weeks turned to months and the months became a year. I thought this would be over in a couple of weeks, a few months at the most. Nothing could have prepared any one of us for this. Although the mine was in a remote area, I did not believe Doug was in any real danger. As a wife and a mother I feel so helpless not knowing what he has had to endure over the last 12 months. Although not a single stone has been left unturned, he's still not home. The uncertainty surrounding his fate has caused the family an immense amount of heartache over the last year. All I know is that he was fully dressed when he was ordered out of his room. Although nobody has owned up to having taken him hostage and no demands have been forthcoming, I am convinced that he and his colleagues are alive and that I will see him again. I face each day with fresh hope because our eleven year old son is a constant reminder of his father. He has been the bravest of us all with an unswerving belief that he will embrace his Daddy again one day. Doug is a warm and peace-loving person with the amazing ability to get on with everyone. I worry about his health and his mental state and I know he longs to be with us. Knowing Doug as I do, I cling to the hope that he is making the best of the situation he finds himself in and that he will never give up hope. I do not understand the complexities of what is going on in Angola. Nor do I understand why he is being held captive. He has paid dearly for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and this is something he will have to live with for the rest of his live. He has suffered enough. We have already spent one Christmas without him. The thought of facing another is unbearable. I believe the time has come for whoever is holding him captive to consider our agony over the last year and release him as soon as possible as a gesture of goodwill. There is nothing to be gained by holding onto him. All I can offer in exchange is my gratitude for their compassion. I blame nobody for what happened, I just want him home where he belongs and this ordeal to end. I hope that by some miracle Doug hears this broadcast and that it gives him strength and renewed hope. We love and miss him dearly. Jason Pope's mother and I have spent a year sharing our hopes and fears and drawing strength from one another. There is no doubt in our minds that Doug, Jason, Wilfred and Roberto have done the same thing somewhere deep in the African Bush and that they will remain friends for life because of this. (END STATEMENT) OUTRO: That was an appeal from Karen Larsen, the wife of Douglas Larsen, who was taken hostage one year ago in Angola. NEB/BEL/GE/KL 08-Nov-1999 07:07 AM EDT (08-Nov-1999 1207 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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