Somali pirates free hostages held almost 5 years

The group was held for 1,672 days, making it second longest period Somali pirates held hostages, with crewmembers of the vessel FV Prantalay having been held captive for 2,774 days before their release past year by Hostage Support Partners.

"We are very pleased to announce the release of the Naham 3 crew early this morning".

The first major commercial vessel was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2005 and the industry flourished in a country wracked by years of civil war, with few jobs and no central government.

"The release of the Naham 3 crew represents the end of captivity for the last remaining seafarers taken hostage during the height of Somali piracy", Steed said.

Of the 29 crew members seized along with their boat in 2012, one died during the hijacking and two succumbed to illness during captivity.

"They have spent over four and a half years in deplorable conditions away from their families", said Steed, the coordinator of the HSP for Oceans Beyond Piracy.

Eyewitness who saw the crew as they were handed over to the Galmudug regional authorities in Galkayo said they all looked malnourished and two of them appeared so weak that they struggled to walk.

The Naham 3 crew members are the second longest- held hostages by Somali pirates, Steed said.

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The crew members are from China, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia and Taiwan and they were the last seafarers to be taken hostage at the height of Somali piracy.

He declined to give details on the process of the hostages release, and if a ransom was paid.

The Oceans Beyond Piracy group said the crew were brought ashore by pirates when their ship sank more than a year after it was hijacked.

Their period of captivity is one of the longest among hostages seized by pirates in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation.

"These are poor fishermen".

The sailors were held in Dabagala near the town of Harardheere some 400 km (250 miles) northeast of the capital Mogadishu.

A major threat to worldwide shipping, piracy was at its peak in 2011 and 2012.

While there has not been a successful attack on a commercial vessel since 2012, there have been several on fishing boats. A Somali pirate said Saturday that 26 Asian sailors held hostage for more than.

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