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Indonesia to pick up hostages from Somali pirates

Last Updated: Saturday, April 16, 2011 - 16:13

Jakarta: Indonesia has deployed troops to the seas off Somalia to pick up its 20 sailors held hostage by pirates once the negotiations for their release are finalised, according to an official.

"The Indonesian military has sent troops to Somalia on March 23 to pick up our people and bring them home if necessary," Coordinating Ministry of Political, Security and Legal Affairs spokesman Sagom Tamboen said.

"The carrier can still be hijacked once they are released," he said.

Tamboen said Jakarta sent two frigates with about 400 marines and Army personnel to waters off the east coast of Africa.

"The government is facilitating the company responsible for the crew members for its final negotiation. The company is still trying to figure out the mechanism to pay the USD 3 million ransom," he said.

An unusually large group of 30 to 50 Somali pirates in March seized an Indonesian flagged and owned ship about 320 nautical miles northeast of the Yemeni island of Socotra and used it in a failed bid to hijack a second ship.

The bulk carrier Sinar Kudus was on its way to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, from Indonesian island of Sulawesi when it was hijacked.

Tamboen said the frigates would also monitor an Indonesian state-owned vessel coming to waters off the east of Africa from Saudi Arabia soon.

"The vessel has about 3,000 Indonesians on board who have overstayed in Saudi Arabia," he said.

Despite the increased international military presence off Somalia`s coastline -- the longest on the African continent -- pirates have raked in huge ransoms.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, April 16, 2011 - 16:13

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