British couple remain in hands of pirates

HARADHEERE, Somalia, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- A British couple whose yacht was seized by Somali pirates two months ago will probably be spending Christmas in captivity, their captors say.

Mohamed Shakir, a pirate leader, told The Times of London the pirates, although Muslim, will do their best to help Paul and Rachel Chandler of Tunbridge Wells in Kent celebrate Christmas.


"We will never deny them their Christmas," he said. "We respect their liberty, their life and their religion because no religion allows violation against another one. We will prepare their favorite food if they want to eat for the occasion."

The Chandlers, both in their 50s, were cruising in the Seychelles when their yacht, the Lynn Rival, was boarded and seized in October. The kidnappers' ransom demands have come down from an initial $7 million to a reported $100,000 rejected last month by the British government on the grounds that kidnappers should not be paid.

In a telephone conversation with news agencies in November, Chandler urged the British government to get the couple released by Christmas "by whatever means."

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