The ship Hansa Stavanger (center) was freed after several attempts in 2009Image: AP Photo/Bundeswehr, Fregatte Rheinland-Pfalz
Freed from Somali pirates
June 24, 2011
The six Indian sailors were freed after the payment of $2.1 million ransom. They thanked Pakistan's government for its role in their release. Pakistan worked with Egypt to free the cargo ship Suez hijacked last year.
The sailors were reunited with their families on arrival at the international airport in New Delhi after flying from the Pakistani port city of Karachi. They recounted the horrors they faced during their 10-month captivity by Somali pirates who kept them in chains, often without food or water and treated them "like animals." The cargo ship Suez was hijacked in August 2010 with six Indians, four Pakistanis, 11 Egyptians and a Sri Lankan on board, who were held in basic conditions.
Help from Pakistan
N.K. Sharma, the captain of the ship said, "There were moments when we lost all hope. Whatever Pakistan has done is praiseworthy. They came forward to our help and did not care about nationalities."
Pakistan also deployed a warship, the PNS Babur, to escort the released MV Suez after it developed technical problems. The MV Suez sank in high seas while being towed, and the Pakistani military transferred its crew to the PNS Zulfiqar, the Pakistani daily Express Tribune reported.
Pakistani human rights activist Ansar Burney has also been praised for his role in negotiations with the pirates and for helping raise the ransom.
The ordeal is over
Another Indian sailor Prashant Chauhan said he was thrilled to be free after an ordeal in which the captives where routinely beaten and poorly fed. "The Pakistan government has done a lot for us. Their ship Babar came to our rescue. We called up Indian ship Godavari a number of times but they never responded."
India's Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna said the government was relieved at their release and thanked Pakistan for its help. "We are relieved that their ordeal has ended," he said in a statement. "We appreciate the timely help extended to them and sailors of other countries, by the Pakistani navy." Krishna also said more concerted efforts were needed to tackle the threat posed by pirates.
Piracy has surged in recent years off Somalia, a lawless, war-torn country that sits alongside one of the world's most important shipping routes. afp, dpa