Suffolk man among 15 held in Iran

ONE of the 15 British service personnel being held captive in Iran is from Suffolk, it emerged last night.The parents of Royal Marine Mark Banks, 24, from Lowestoft, spoke of their pride in their “strong and determined lad”.

ONE of the 15 British service personnel being held captive in Iran is from Suffolk, it has been emerged.

The parents of Royal Marine Mark Banks, 24, from Lowestoft, spoke of their pride in their “strong and determined lad”.

He was one of seven Marines and eight Royal Navy sailors seized at gunpoint off the Iraqi coast 10 days ago.

His parents Penny, 49, and Allistair, 52, were too upset to speak last night but issued a statement that read: “We would like to thank everyone who has provided, and continues to provide support, and encouragement at this very distressing time.

“We know Mark would be very humbled and overwhelmed by the huge amount of love and support his friends and family have shown.

“Mark is a very strong and determined lad and we hope he is drawing strength and courage in the knowledge that he has so many people that are incredibly proud of him.

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“Our thoughts and hopes are for his safe and speedy release along with his fellow comrades.

“We miss him immensely but know he has the strength of character to get through this difficult time and look forward to seeing him at home soon.”

Royal Marine Banks, a former Pakefield Primary and Middle School and Kirkley High pupil, is understood to have served with the Marines for three years.

Meanwhile new footage of two British service personnel apparently "confessing" to trespassing into Iranian waters were expected to ramp up the pressure on the British government today to find a swift diplomatic solution.

The images, broadcast on the Iranian television channel Al Alam last night showed two men standing in front of a large map of the Persian Gulf.

The pair, named as Royal Marine Captain Chris Air and Lieutenant Felix Carman, looked in good condition.

Captain Air, who appeared first, said they had been shown on a GPS that they were apparently seized inside Iranian waters.

He said: "So far we have been treated very well by all the people here. They have looked after us and made sure we are given enough food and treated very well by them, so I thank them for that.''

Lieutenant Felix Carman said he would like to tell the Iranian people: "I can understand why you are so angry about our intrusion into your waters.''

Both men gestured to points on the map behind them, close to the handwritten words "the point where intruding boats were captured''.

A Foreign Office immediately condemned the footage as "unacceptable''.

Do you know Mark Banks? Do you want to send a message of support to his family? Call Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.