A Thai doctor tells of the ordeal of the kidnapping in Mali

A Thai doctor tells of the ordeal of the kidnapping in Mali


A Thai plastic surgeon on Thursday described drinking pond water to survive during three weeks in captivity by armed kidnappers in Mali.

Nopparat Rattanawaraha, who also runs a popular YouTube channel where he posts travel clips, returned to Thailand after being released on an alleged $150,000 ransom.

Back at work just a day after flying back to the Kingdom, the 49-year-old recounted the dramatic moment he drove from Burkina Faso to Mali with a driver and guide.

After falling asleep in the car, Nopparat said he woke up to find himself surrounded.

“It was like in a movie. There were five or six men with guns around me, but I couldn’t understand them,” he told Channel 3 TV.

“They told me to kneel, put my hands behind my back and cover my eyes.”

The kidnappers took him to a secluded location and he tried to remain calm and friendly, he said.

“They weren’t aggressive, they didn’t hurt me. You spoke to me nicely,” he said, although food and drink were limited.

“I had to eat what was available. When there was no water, I had to drink from the pond. Sometimes I could smell oil in it,” he said.

Helping him was his homemade survival kit – a plastic bag containing mosquito repellent bracelets and herbal inhalers popular in Thailand.

For the third week of detention, he was allowed to use the phone to speak to his mother and girlfriend, who were speaking to the kidnappers to hear their ransom demands.

Who paid the ransom is not confirmed, but Thai police and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs helped arrange his return.

Nopparat said that while he didn’t immediately feel traumatized by his experience, he felt he needed professional advice.

“You may see I’m smiling right now, but before I shed a tear,” he said.

“I’ll have to seek the help of a psychiatrist later.”

The United Nations recently urged action in Mali, Burkina Faso and neighboring Niger following the “volatile” security situation in which peacekeepers and civilians have been targeted by terrorist groups.

The three countries have been fighting a jihadist insurgency that has killed thousands of civilians, police officers and troops, while around two million people have fled their homes.

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