Somali troops free 22 hostages after three years
MOGADISHU: Troops from the Somali region of Puntland on Sunday rescued 22 hostages held by pirates for almost three years after their ship was seized off the Yemeni coast, the authorities said, adding that the men bore signs of torture.
The crew, from the Dubai-owned and Panamanian-flagged MV Iceberg 1 were freed after two weeks of fighting and a siege of the vessel off the coast of Somalia, the Puntland authorities said in a statement. “Puntland government forces conducting a humanitarian rescue operation have safely rescued 22 hostages on board the MV Iceberg 1 vessel,” according to the statement from the semi-autonomous northern state. It said the rescue of the multinational crew came after two weeks of “fighting pirates and laying siege to the vessel”. Government forces first surrounded the vessel on December 10 near the coastal village of Garaad in the Mudug region, lies along the Indian Ocean. The 4,000-tonne ship was seized in the Gulf of Aden in March 2010 with a crew of 24 people hailing from Ghana, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sudan and Yemen.
“After two years and nine months in captivity, the hostages have suffered signs of physical torture and illness,” the authorities said. “The hostages are now receiving nutrition and medical care.” afp