26 Filipino seamen freed by Somali pirates

November 28th, 2008 - 8:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Manila, Nov 28 (Xinhua) Somali pirates have released 26 Filipino seamen seized almost two months ago off Somalia, while 108 Filipino sailors still remain in captivity, the Philippine government said Friday. The sailors were taken hostage in the Gulf of Aden Sep 17, when heavily-armed Somali pirates hijacked their Greek cargo ship MV Centauri.

They were released Thursday night, “safe and in good condition, ” said Esteban Conejos, Undersecretary of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

He did not say if ransom was paid to secure the seafarers’ freedom.

Earlier, he had said that the government does not pay ransom and negotiate directly with kidnappers as a policy.

But reports said that owners of hijacked ships have paid huge amounts to ransom for their crew, including dozens of Filipinos, from Somali pirates.

The Philippines supplies a third of all of the world’s sailors. Some 350,000 Filipino sailors are employed all around the world, manning major oil tankers, luxury liners and passenger ships.

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