Somali pirates release 22 hostages including six Indians
Somali pirates today released 22 crew members, including six Indians and four Pakistanis, of a hijacked merchant vessel after ransom was paid to them leading rights activist Ansar Burney said.india Updated: Jun 13, 2011 22:57 IST
Somali pirates on Monday released 22 crew members, including six Indians and four Pakistanis, of a hijacked merchant vessel after ransom was paid to them leading rights activist Ansar Burney said.
The pirates had taken the crew members, including Egyptians and a Sri Lankan, hostage after capturing the vessel MV Suez last year and demanded $2.1 million for their release. The ship belongs to an Egyptian company.
Burney, who negotiated with the pirates and raised money through donations, said in Karachi that all hostages had been freed. He said they would reach their homes in a few days as arrangements are being made for their repatriation.
The freed Pakistani captain of the ship, Mohammad Wasi, told Geo News channel on phone that all the hostages had been freed. "I am very happy as my release is like a new life for me," he said.
The Somali pirates had threatened the hostages on at least four occasions that they would be killed if the ransom was not paid, Wasi said.
The pirates had given several deadlines and extended them as they were told that the money was being arranged.
Wasi said 40 to 50 armed pirates would always guard the hostages, who were given only rice and pulses over the past 10 months.
"The pirates would give us whatever was left after they ate," he said.
The hostages had stored rain water and had been drinking that while they were being held on the ship.
The freed hostages include six Indian, four Pakistanis, 11 Egyptians and one Sri Lankan Wasi said.
Most of the hostages are sick, he added.
Burney, a former federal minister, said a ship had been hired to take the money to the pirates. He said the people of Pakistan and other countries made donations for the ransom.
First Published: Jun 13, 2011 22:27 IST