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Somali pirates holding Britons issue terrifying ultimatum: Pay £1.9m or yacht couple die

By Sue Richards last modified Jan 11, 2010 05:37 PM

Published: 2010-01-11 17:37:22
Topics: Piracy Reports 2009
Countries: Somalia

By David Jones (Daily Mail) - as reported by ECOTERRA Intl.

Pirates holding a British couple issued a terrifying ultimatum yesterday: "Pay up or we'll shoot them."

Speaking exclusively to the Daily Mail, the Somali gang which snatched Paul and Rachel Chandler from their yacht in the Indian Ocean, said time was running out after negotiations to free them stalled. In a chilling exchange, they also revealed that 55-year-old Mrs Chandler has been brutally beaten and needs medical treatment.

The captors are demanding $3million (£1.9million) and have set a two-month deadline for the ransom to be paid. If their demands are not met, they will kill the couple in March, one of the kidnappers told the Mail. "We are giving an ultimatum of two months from January 1. If we are not paid $3million we are ready to shoot them," he said. "It is becoming too expensive to hold these people. By March, they have to decide or we will be done with them."

The man, who gave his name only as Noor, gave horrific details of the Chandlers' life in captivity. Mr Chandler, 59, and his wife, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, were kidnapped at gunpoint in October as they sailed from the Seychelles to Tanzania. They have since been moved every 48 hours and have been separated from each other despite their desperate pleas to be kept together.

In one shocking episode, the helpless couple clung to each other and begged for clemency until their ruthless captors resorted to force to beat them apart. Mrs Chandler, an economist, was injured in the attack. She will be treated by a doctor in Somalia, according to her captors, but the episode has escalated fears for her safety.

A second gang member, who claimed he was the pirates' negotiator, said: "The woman was unfortunately beaten. She was injured but we have arranged for her to get medical treatment."

Mr Chandler, a retired quantity surveyor, and his wife were on a round-the-world trip when they were kidnapped in the Indian Ocean, onboard their yacht the Lynn Rival (see previous noonsite reports here).

The Chandlers are being held close to the town of Haradeere but have been moved between safe houses to prevent their rescue. Their captors fear they will be located by Western intelligence, or snatched by Islamic extremists. The gang initially demanded a $7million (£4.3million) ransom from the Chandlers' relatives - a middle-class family with no apparent ability to meet such a vast demand.

But reports suggested that the couple's release was almost secured for $100,000 (£61,600) last month until the British Government allegedly blocked the deal because it went against a policy on negotiating.

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