TWO former Royal Marines taking on a daring Amazon trek were shot by a rum-drunk "pirates" just weeks after being kidnapped by a tribe.
John Bathgate, 35, and Ian 'Yan' Roberts, 34, incredibly managed to fend off the attackers ambushing their rowing boat with just their paddles.
The ex-commandos' world record attempt almost turned deadly when the duo were confronted by pistol-wielding Peruvian pirates.
The pair were aiming to be the first to navigate 3,186 miles of the Amazon River from its highest point – the Volcán Chimborazo glacier – to the Atlantic Ocean.
But their extraordinary "Summit to Sea" challenge took a sinister turn as they were approaching the Colombian border in their rowing boat.
Terrifyingly, John and Ian were tackled by two boozed-up buccaneers who held them at gunpoint – and who ended up pulling the trigger.
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Detailing their horror ordeal in a social media update, the brave Brits explained how "incredibly lucky" they feel to have escaped.
John calmly tells the camera he sustained two gunshot wounds, showing the entry points of the bullets on his knee and his thigh.
The Edinburgh-born Intrepid ex-commando explained two "blatantly drunk" men had pulled alongside their boat before launching an attack.
The pirates initially inspected the pair's kit, until they suddenly produced a pistol – with the intention to rob or kill them both.
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Ian said: "Usually, if villages or communities come out to see who we are there's a concern in their faces about us – but once we wave and smile it tends to be reciprocated. He had a face full of malice though."
John added: "As we went to leave, he manoeuvred to basically hold onto the back of our boat."
The pair then told of their incredible fight for their lives on the open water as they battled the gun-toting pirates with their paddles.
John continued: " Yan thrust the paddle straight into the guy's chest to disarm him, and then he dived into the water to capsize them.
"It all happened so quickly, but then I boarded his boat. I think I grabbed him, and there were two shots.
"The first shot was aimed at Yan and missed. The second shot hit me in the shoulder. Then I was in the water.
"When I eventually came up, Yan was tussling with him. He had come up on the other side and pulled their boat down to try and capsize them."
Their attackers' boat began to flood with water, while John miraculously managed to pull the remaining pirate into the sea.
He continued: "I finished the capsize and grabbed the lad at the same time. I vividly remember then having my hand on top of his head – basically trying to drown him.
"Then, the third shot went off and I felt another jolt through my whole body.
'WE SWAM LIKE HELL'
"I thought in my head 'this can't happen again' and found his arm with my hand, and luckily found his weapon.
"As I twisted the weapon out of his hand, I fired two shots underwater in the struggle and then it jammed – having the weapon in my control, I then knew that there was no longer a threat.
"I came up from the water, and the guy surfaced about two metres away from me. We then swam like hell to our boat – about 15 metres away."
Ian described their return to the boat as "the scariest moment", as they feared other pirates could wade in for backup.
He said: "It's very easy to drop into the line of how terrible it could have been, which it could have been, but also it could not have happened at all.
"We were very unlucky to have that experience at all – but ultimately what we did saved our lives."
The pair paddled towards a nearby village for help, where locals rushed to their aid, while frantically trying to send an SOS message.
They used their Garmin InReach2 device to alert authorities, seeing a Peruvian naval gunboat swoop in to rescue them three hours later.
Their attackers were later arrested by local police and one had to undergo surgery as it emerged he had also been shot in the hip.
But this wasn't John and Ian's first brush with death on their mammoth expedition along the Amazon – as they were kidnapped by reclusive tribes TWICE.
The Marines said they were earlier "abducted" by villagers after crossing into Peru, where they had been warned locals don't take tourists well.
Ian, from Exeter, Devon, who now works in security and property management, said they were "essentially detained" by the first community they ran into.
He explained: "Some young men lassoed our boat to the shore, and were pretty worried about us being there."
The pair had to negotiate with the locals using "broken Spanish" as the group argued over their fate.
John added: "We were kind of just sitting there as the villagers and elders debated between each other thinking 'so are we going to be stoned to death, or let go'.
"After it happened once, we were more used to it. But the first time it was a strange experience.
"We didn't expect to have two-legged problems, we expected eight-legged issues with spiders. We actually had no issues with nature really."
The pals were later held up by another isolated tribe – but again miraculously managed to wrangle their way to freedom.
However, their latest attack has forced them to abandon their world-first expedition which first began in late April – for now.
We didn't expect to have two-legged problems, we expected eight-legged issues with spiders
The marines had hoped the adventure, inspired by John's dad, could help them fundraise for a string of charities close to their hearts.
The duo planned to raise cash for the Royal Marines Charity, Rainforest Concern and several other mental-health charities.
Their epic journey, sponsored by outdoor company Tiso, would have carried them a record-breaking 5,128km to Belém in Brazil.
But they had to call time on their adventure around 200km from the Brazilian border.
John and Ian returned home in early August and quickly began planning their return – but say they now intend to take a few more thrill seekers with them.
The marine turned rope access technician added: "We discussed it afterwards, with beers, and the best thing to do really was come back and reassure our families.
"The incident hadn't had an adverse effect on us, but returning to see terrified Whatsapp messages from everyone made us realise we needed to leave.
"Also, my arm isn't really working – so I needed to see an orthopaedic specialist. But we're not abandoning it, we're just postponing."
John and Ian said their first point of call will be the small community who offered them aid after their clash with the pirates.
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They plan to return with armfuls of "thank you gifts" to show their appreciation.
"When we go back completely depends on fundraising, but I think we're both itching to get to the finish line," John said.
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