Somali pirates free 26 hostages held captive for nearly five years

Piracy off Somalia's coast has subsided in the past three years, mainly due to shipping firms hiring private security and the presence of international warships

Katie Forster
Saturday 22 October 2016 23:44
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Razor wire is used to deter pirates from attacking ships
Razor wire is used to deter pirates from attacking ships

Somali pirates have freed 26 hostages held in a small fishing village for nearly five years, government officials have said.

The crew of the Naham 3 were taken captive when their boat was seized in March 2012 south of the Seychelles, when pirate attacks were common in the area.

The sailors from China, the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Taiwan had one of the longest periods of captivity among hostages seized by pirates in the African country.

“The crew is staying overnight in Galkayo. They will arrive in Nairobi at 18:30 local time tomorrow,” said John Steed, East Africa region manager for the US-based Oceans Beyond Piracy group.

The mayor of Galkayo in north Somalia had earlier said the crew was set to arrive in Kenya on Saturday afternoon.

“The crew did not say if ransom was paid,” mayor Hirsi Yusuf Barre told Reuters.

Mr Steed said one member of the crew had died during the hijacking while two succumbed to illness. Among those released, one was being treated for a gunshot wound on his foot and three were diabetic.

The sailors were held in Dabagala near the town of Harardheere some 250 miles northeast of the capital Mogadishu.

Harardheere became known as Somalia's main pirate base at the height of the crisis.

Oceans Beyond Piracy said the crew were brought ashore by pirates when their ship sank more than a year after its hijacking.

Piracy off Somalia's coast has subsided in the past three years, mainly due to shipping firms hiring private security details and the presence of international warships.

The wave of attacks had cost the world's shipping industry billions of dollars as pirates paralysed shipping lanes, kidnapped hundreds of seafarers and seized vessels more than 1,000 miles from Somalia's coastline.

Additional reporting from Reuters

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