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Somali pirates release Iranian hostages held since 2015 as armed men attack Panama-flagged ship
Somali News

Somali pirates release Iranian hostages held since 2015 as armed men attack Panama-flagged ship

Somali pirates have released three Iranian hostages held for five years, a maritime security official said on Thursday, as conflicting reports emerged whether another ship had been seized after a three-year hiatus in hijackings. The three Iranians are the last of the crew of the Iranian fishing vessel FV Siraj, which was captured by pirates on March 22, 2015. “This marks the end of an era of Somali piracy and the pain and suffering of Somalia’s forgotten hostages,” said John Steed, the coordinator of the Hostage Support Programme, a volunteer organisation based in Nairobi begun to help rescue crews abandoned by their employers. The release was meant to mark the end of an era for Somalia’s pirates, who held over 2,300 crew between 2010 and 2019. But instead, six armed men hijacked the Panama-flagged Aegean II late Wednesday after it had engine problems, a regional governor in Somalia told Reuters. Musse Salah, the governor of Gardafu in the semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland, said the ship was travelling from the United Arab Emirates to Mogadishu port when pirates attacked it, in what would be the first successful hijacking since 2017. There were 20 crew on board, said a resident in contact with the men who had seized the ship. A regional security official said the men appeared to have links to a local militia that functioned as a police unit in the Bari region. The official asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media. Reuters