Somali pirates free four Thai captives

2015-02-27 18:10:34

  MOGADISHU, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Somali pirates have released four crew from Thailand after four years in captivity in central Somalia, authorities said on Friday.

  The four were allegedly released after paying 400,000 U.S. dollars in ransom to the pirates who have been holding the men in Camara town in Galmudug State in Central Somalia.

  Omar Sheikh Ali, director of anti-piracy office in Galmudug state, said the negotiations which have been going on for the last four years ended Thursday after the ransom was paid, though he did not disclose whether the family or government of Thailand paid the amount.

  One of the negotiators, who refused to be named, said the pirates received 400,000 dollars to release the captives but did not divulge further information on the source of the money.

  However, Ali said the United NationsOffice on Drugs and Crime had played an important role in the negotiation.

  "We have been engaged in negotiations with the pirates to release the men unconditionally but they insisted on their stand, saying that ransom must be paid for the release of the four men," said Ali in a phone interview with Xinhua.

  Somali minister of Fisheries and Natural Resources for Galmudug state Ali Jamac also confirmed that the UN office had been instrumental in the release of the four men who were captured in the Somali waters of the Indian Ocean in 2011.

  Jamac said though incidents of piracy had significantly gone down in the last three years, there was urgent need for support of the youth who had left the practice and needed to be integrated in the society.

  "We need correctional facilities for those who have been arrested by police, but more importantly we need to invest in vocational training for youth who are predisposed to piracy owing to lack of income and any meaningful employment," said Jamac.

  The family members of the Thai men were present during the release and are travelling to Nairobi for onward flight to Thailand.

  It is believed that the Somali pirates are still holding a number of ships and crew despite international efforts in taming piracy in the Indian Ocean and Gulf region.