Twenty six Asian sailors, including 10 from China, held hostage by Somali pirates for nearly five years, have been released, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said today.
“The 26 crew members of the Naham 3, a fishing vessel hijacked by Somali pirates in March 2012, were rescued yesterday and moved to Kenya today with the help of relevant United Nations agencies,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying was quoted as saying in a statement.
“The Chinese government expresses sincere gratitude to all agencies and personnel that have been involved in the rescue operation and conveys heartfelt blessing to those crewmen,” she said.
Twenty nine sailors of the Naham 3, including 10 from China, two from Taiwan, and 17 others from the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia, were taken captive when their Omani-flagged vessel was seized south of the Seychelles.
Three sailors died after the hijacking, including one from the Chinese mainland and another from Taiwan, state run Xinhua quoted Hua as saying.
A working group of the Chinese Foreign Ministry was sent to meet the surviving Chinese crewmen, she said.
After receiving medical examination and psychological counseling, the Chinese crewmen will return to their home, Hua said.
She also offered condolences to the families of the three sailors who died after the hijacking.
“The Chinese government strongly condemns the cruelty of the pirates that defy human dignity,” Hua said.