jeudi 8 septembre 2011
Thu, 08 September 2011
COPENHAGEN/MOGA — Somali pirates have freed a Danish family of five and two crew captured while sailing off the Horn of Africa in February after receiving a $3 million ransom, a pirate told said yesterday.
Armed pirates captured the family — Jan Quist Johansen, his wife and three children — and two crew members when they hijacked the group’s 43-foot sailboat, SY ING, about 600 miles east of Somalia.
Danish officials said the released family and crew members were flying back to Denmark, but declined to comment on whether a ransom was paid.
“The seven Danes are well considering the circumstances,” the Danish Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “They are expected to be back in Denmark shortly.” Pirate gangs plaguing the shipping lanes through the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean typically target large merchant ships, with oil tankers the prize catch, but the snatching of foreigners can also yield high ransoms.
A pirate, who identified himself as Hussein, said by telephone from the coastal village of Ras Bina in Somalia’s Puntland region : “We received a $3 million ransom (on Tuesday) afternoon.”
“The Danish state has not been involved in the contacts with the pirates — the contacts have been handled by the relatives of the seven Danes,” Charlotte Slente, head of Danish consular services, said.
“They have been advised by a private security company that has experience in those matters,” Slente said. Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who is in a close race to try to win four more years in office in a September 15 election, welcomed the news of the captives’ release.
“I am first and foremost sincerely happy on behalf of the family which has since the 24th of February been subject to the most horrible thing one can imagine,” Rasmussen said on Danish TV2 News, declining to discuss whether any ransom was paid.
“The foreign ministry has very clear travelling guidance, and there is a clear recommendation not to sail into waters that are characterised by hostage taking. So that should be a warning for all to think carefully,” Rasmussen said.
The pirates in the strategic sea lanes linking Europe to Asia and Africa have made about $80 million in ransoms since September last year, regional maritime experts say. Days before the February 24 attack on the Johansens, who had been sailing from the Maldives to the Red Sea, pirates shot dead four American sailors in the same area of the Arabian Sea in a hostage standoff. —
Voir en ligne : Oman Observer