Islamabad: 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 USD 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.