Conflict & Justice

Somalia: Pirates free 22 hostages after nearly three years of captivity


A Somali man, part armed militia, part pirate, carries his high-caliber weapon on a beach in the central Somali town of Hobyo. Six foreigners, including three Britons and an American, have been jailed in Somalia for illegally bringing $3.6 million into the country, allegedly to pay ransoms to pirates.



Somali pirates have freed 22 sailors taken hostage nearly three years ago, following a siege by maritime police, authorities in the breakaway region of Puntland say.

The hostages were released after the maritime force began an operation two weeks ago to free the sailors and their ship, Reuters reported

The Panama-flagged MV Iceberg 1 was captured off the coast of Yemen in March 2010. 

The crew from the Philippines, India, Yemen, Sudan, Ghana and Pakistan were held for longer than any other hostages seized by pirates, the president's office of Puntland said in a statement, according to Reuters.

The ship originally had 24 sailors on board, but two died during the ordeal.

"After two years and nine months in captivity, the hostages have suffered signs of physical torture and illness," the statement said. "[They] are now receiving nutrition and medical care."

Pirate attacks in Somalia have decreased in the last two years, due to the use of private security guards on ships and better-coordinated naval patrols, the BBC reported.

In late November, four South Korean sailors who were abducted by Somali pirates and held for 19 months were released.

More from GlobalPost: Special Report: Pirate Wars