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The Telegraph
The Telegraph
16 Dec 2023

British businessman kidnapped in Ecuador

A British businessman has been kidnapped from his home in eastern Ecuador by gunmen, local media reported on Saturday.

The man, named locally as Colin Armstrong, was reportedly dragged from his house on Saturday morning and taken captive.

Police did not identify the victim of the assault, but said officers were investigating a presumed crime against a businessman in Los Rios province.

The Foreign Office said it was in contact with authorities following the disappearance of a British man.

Local media said Mr Armstrong, the honorary British consul in the city of Guayaquil, was taken from his home in the town of Baba, along with a Colombian woman, thought to be his wife.

Blood-stained sheets 

Mr Armstrong, 78, is the founder and owner of an agricultural company, Agripac, and owner of the Tupgill Park Estate in North Yorkshire.

The estate is open to the public and features a garden built by Mr Armstrong and Malcolm Tempest, an architect.

A video posted on social media, purportedly of the house where Mr Armstrong was kidnapped, shows blood-stained sheets on a bed and ransacked rooms.

Up to 15 men are reported to have raided his home, and one report said the kidnappers had disguised themselves as police officers.

The kidnapping of wealthy expats is a rising crime in Ecuador, and is often carried out by drug trafficking gangs, who hold Westerners to ransom.

A government press release from the British Embassy in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, in 2013 shows Mr Armstrong pictured alongside his wife and others celebrating the 60th anniversary of Elizabeth II’s coronation.

He was awarded an OBE and CMG for services to the British monarchy in 2011.

The Foreign Office’s travel advice for Ecuador says visitors should be wary of “express kidnappings” where victims are “taken to ATMs to withdraw as much cash as possible before they’re released”.

“The murder rate in Guayaquil is very high, but is mainly gang-related,” it adds.

“You should be particularly cautious in Guayaquil city centre, southern parts of the city and port areas.”