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5 Filipinos held 4 years by Somali pirates freed at last

By: - Reporter / @TarraINQ
/ 02:36 AM October 24, 2016

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Malacañang yesterday confirmed that five Filipino seamen were among 26 persons released by Somali pirates after four years in captivity.

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In an interview over public Radyo ng Bayan, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the Filipinos would be met in Kenya by Philippine
officials there.

The five will be brought to Nairobi,” said Andanar. “Tonight, 6 p.m. local time in Nairobi, they will be welcomed by DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) Undersecretary Jesus Yabes,” he said, quoting Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr.

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Their period of captivity was one of the longest of hostages seized by pirates in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation.

The DFA said it had yet to get more details about the release.

A Reuters report on Saturday said the Filipinos were among the 26 crewmen freed by Somali pirates in a small fishing village after they were held for more than four years since their ship was hijacked in the Indian Ocean.

Attacks common

The crew members from the Philippines, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Taiwan were seized when the Omani-flagged FV Naham 3 was hijacked close to the Seychelles in March 2012, when pirate attacks were common in the area.

“The crew is staying overnight in Galkayo. They will arrive in (Kenya capital) Nairobi at 1830 local time tomorrow,” said John Steed, East Africa region manager for the Oceans Beyond Piracy group.

The mayor of Galkayo in northern Somalia said the crew was to arrive in Kenya on Saturday afternoon.

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

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Steed said one crew member died during the hijacking while two later succumbed to illness. Among those released, one was treated for a gunshot wound on his foot and three were suffering from diabetes.

Ship sank

The crew were held in Dabagala near the town of Harardheere, some 400 kilometers northeast of the capital Mogadishu. Harardheere became known as Somalia’s main pirate base at the height of the crisis.

The Oceans Beyond Piracy group said the crew were brought ashore by the 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 cost the world’s shipping industry billions of dollars as pirates paralyzed shipping lanes, kidnapped hundreds of seafarers and seized vessels more than 1,500 km from Somalia’s coastline.

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TAGS: Kenya, Martin Andanar, Nairobi, ofws, Somali pirates
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