Saturday, February 24, 2018

Troops rescue hostages on hijacked ship

NAIROBI, Kenya — In a siege that lasted nearly two weeks, forces of Somalia's semiautonomous Puntland region raided a hijacked ship Sunday and safely rescued 22 hostages who had been held captive for nearly three years, authorities said.

The Puntland government said their forces captured the Panama-flagged MV Iceberg 1, which was docked near the Gara'ad coastal village. "After two years and nine months in captivity, the hostages have suffered signs of physical torture and illness," a statement said.

Hassan Abdi, a pirate commander, said eight pirates on the vessel escaped as Puntland soldiers closed in.

Puntland authorities said they had laid siege to the MV Iceberg 1 on Dec. 10.

Rescued were eight Yemenis, five Indians, two Pakistanis, four Ghanaians, two Sudanese and a Filipino, Puntland Ports and Anti-piracy minister Saeed Mohamed Rage said. The ship was hijacked March 29, 2010.

Close to 120 seafarers are still held by Somali pirates, though that number is considerably down from the height of the piracy crisis two years ago, when more than 600 hostages were held at once.

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