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Freed German Sailors Reach Kenya

By Val Ellis last modified Aug 14, 2008 02:20 PM

Published: 2008-08-14 14:20:47
Topics: Piracy Reports 2008
Countries: Yemen

Two German cruising sailors were freed by Somali Pirates after 41 days in captivity and have now been airlifted to Kenya, a Yemen regional maritime official said yesterday (Sunday).

Andrew Mwangura, East African Co-ordinator of the Seafarers Assistance Program (SAP), said the couple, 63-year-old Juergen Kantiner and 51-year-old Sabine Merck, who were kidnapped on June 23 this year, are expected to fly to Germany early next week.

"They arrived in Nairobi yesterday (Sunday) afternoon from Somalia en-route to Germany. The gunmen abandoned the yacht on the shore and disappeared into the mountains", said Mwangura, who met the couple in Nairobi on Sunday.

"The couple complained a lot that they were harassed. It was not clear if the full ransom had been paid to free the hostages from the pirates' mountain stronghold, although initial reports indicate that some big money exchanged hands", he said.

Sources in Puntland, northeast Somalia, said Saturday that the kidnapers released the hostages after accepting a ransom half of the amount they initially demanded. The German couple was kidnapped from their yacht while under way through the Gulf of Aden on a trip from Egypt to Thailand. The pirates ransacked their yacht and then took them to northern Somalia by speedboat.

Meanwhile, Yemen reports a new suspected kidnapping of an unidentified transiting yacht in the Gulf of Aden. The coastguard began searching for the boat on Friday night after receiving reports that pirates may have taken over the yacht, a statement on the ministry's website said. No mention was made of the nationality of the pirates, but the Yemen Government in recent years has increased its active surveillance in its own waters by coastguard patrols, so the kidnapping pirates are likely to be Somalis.

It did not specify the nationality of the yacht nor say how many people were aboard the boat.

From a news report sent by, Thursday 14 August 2008