Kidnapped family 'taken ashore'

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A sailboat belonging to a Danish family kidnapped by pirates has reached the coast of Somalia, officials said yesterday, probably signifying the start of a long hostage ordeal.

The boat – with Jan Quist Johansen, his wife Birgit Marie, and their three children aged between 12 and 16 on board – was near the coastal village of Hafun on the country's northern tip late on Tuesday, said Yusuf Abdullahi Sanyare, the commissioner of Hafun. Two Danish crew members are also being held.

Abdiaziz Mohamud Yusuf, a spokesman for a community group called the Puntland Peacemakers, said the family had been taken ashore.

But a Somali pirate, who gave his name as Muse Abdi, said they had been transferred to another, larger pirated ship.

"They are safe. They were just transferred from the boat to the big ship," said Abdi, who has provided reliable information in the past. "They have been added to other nationals in another ship to avoid any possible attack."

The Johansens' 43ft sailboat was seized last Thursday.

A Somali pirate has warned that if any attempt is made to rescue the family, the Johansens would meet the same fate as the four American sailors slain by their captors last week. Any chance of a quick rescue seemed to disappear yesterday.