Somali pirates have released 22 hostages held since March 2010 aboard the M/V Iceberg 1, according to a statement by officials in Somali’s semiautonomous region of Puntland. The Iceberg 1, hijacked March 29, 2010 off the coast of Yemen, is the longest held vessel by Somali pirates.
“After 2 years and 9 months in captivity, the hostages have suffered signs of physical torture and illness. The hostages are now receiving nutrition and medical care,” the statement said.
To the right is a recent picture taken of the Iceberg 1, compared to the picture above taken sometime prior to its 2010 hijacking. More about the horrendous conditions the hostages have been subjected to can be found HERE.
An operation to free the hostages was first launched almost two weeks ago by the Puntland Maritime Police Force. Three pirates were killed and three others were arrested in the attempt but the raid failed at releasing any of the hostages. Still, the PMPF were able to barricade the vessel in hopes that the pirates eventually surrender.
One of the pirate leaders said they only released the ship after negotiation with Puntland officials and local elders, Reuters reported.
“They kindly requested the release of the ship we held for three years,” a pirate known as Farah told Reuters. ”Puntland forces had attacked us and tried to release the ship by force but they failed. We fought back and defeated them.”
It is unclear if any ransom was paid for the hostages release.
At the time of the attack, the Panamanian-flagged Iceberg 1 had a multinational crew of 24 made up of 8 Yemenis, 6 Indians, 4 Ghanaians, 2 Sudanese, 2 Pakistani and 1 Filipino. The crew was quickly abandoned by the shipowner, Azal Shipping and Cargo, who went out of business soon after hijacking.
One of the crew committed suicide and another, possibly the captain, is believed to have been killed by the pirates.
gCaptain’s FULL Coverage: Iceberg 1
LIST OF CURRENTLY HIJACKED VESSELS:
Name, Flag, Type, Hijacked Date
ICEBERG I, Panama, RoRo, 29 March 2010
ALBEDO, Malaysia, Container Cargo, 25 November 2010
ROYAL GRACE, Panama, Chemical Tanker, 2 March 2012
NAHAM 3, Oman, Fishing Vessel, 26 March 2012
SMYRNI, Liberia, Crude Oil Tanker, 10 May 2012