MOGADISHU, Somalia, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Seven sailors aboard a ship hijacked by Somali pirates in September 2010 have been released, a Somali governor announced.
The sailors, of Indian citizenship, were part of a crew of 15 aboard the MV Asphalt, a Panama-registered ship. Eight members of the crew and the ship were released in April 2011, but the rest were held captive in an unknown location until Thursday because ransom demands were not met.
"The seven Indian sailors, among them a captain, were held hostage by pirates near Harardhere for four years. They have suffered hardships both mentally and physically, but they are finally free, thanks to the Somali government and other external actors," said Gov. Hussein Ali Weheliye Irfo. He added he could not confirm if a ransom was paid.
L.P. Vimalson of the National Union of Seafarers of India referred to the release as historic.
"This is the first time that the Somalian pirates have made a mass release of persons, who they held captive on land, after the piracy of big vessels started in this region about 25 years ago."
The sailors were flown from Harardhere to Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, and will return to India.