Four Thai fishermen who were held hostage by Somali pirates for almost five years have been released, local officials said. Aljazeera reports:
“We collected the four Thailand men from a remote area,” Omar Sheikh Ali, an official in Somalia’s central Galmudug administration told the AFP news agency on Friday. The four fishermen were among 24 crew members seized in April 2010 when Somali pirates hijacked the Taiwan-flagged fishing vessel FV Prantalay 12.
Their nearly five-year captivity is one of the longest suffered by any victims of Somali piracy. Ali said the freed men were able to contact family members soon after their release on Wednesday. “They called their families by phone and cried and cried and cried,” he said.
Residents of Galkayo, where the Galmudug administration is based, said a $150,000 ransom was paid but the information could not be independently verified. After its capture the FV Prantalay was used as a pirate mother ship to launch attacks far out to sea before it capsized in July 2011 and the crew was taken ashore.
Of the original 24 crew members, six died from sickness at various stages during their captivity.