Northern Ireland

Warrenpoint family held hostage in 'tiger kidnapping'

Three members of a family have been held hostage by a gang of robbers who later abandoned them in a field in a rural part of County Down.

A number of men forced their way into a house on Smalls Road, Warrenpoint, at about 20:30 GMT on Sunday.

They forced a 57-year-old woman to take items from a jewellery shop in the town while holding a 53-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman captive.

All three victims were abandoned in a field in Mayobridge, seven miles away.

The gang then left the area in an unknown vehicle.

Police, who have described it as a "tiger kidnapping", appealed to anyone who witnessed suspicious activity between 19:30 GMT and 22:30 GMT to contact them.

The term "tiger kidnapping" comes from a situation where hostages are taken to force someone to carry out a crime for the hostage-takers.

South Down MLA Karen McKevitt, from the Social Democratic and Labour Party, said the family have been left "badly shaken, but physically unhurt".

"This must have been a terrifying ordeal for the family," she said.

"The entire community is in shock at hearing something as horrific as this could happen in Warrenpoint.

"This was late on a Sunday evening, at half past eight when the terrible ordeal unfolded and these evil thugs subjected them to unimaginable horror.

"Everyone is relieved to hear the family is physically unhurt, but this was an extremely traumatic ordeal and they are, understandably, badly shaken.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the family during this very distressing time. I hope they can recover quickly and get on with their lives."

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