Somali pirates release two German hostages: Official

August 9th, 2008 - 2:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Mogadishu (Somalia), Aug 9 (DPA) Somali pirates have released a German couple kidnapped in late June as they sailed through the Gulf of Aden, an official said Saturday. The official from the port town of Bosasso in the semi-autonomous Puntland region told DPA that the couple, identified only as Juergen and Sabine, had arrived in the town and were waiting to fly out.

Pirates abducted the couple from their yacht off the lawless Horn of Africa nation’s coast on June 23 and demanded a ransom of $2 million.

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 money exchanged hands.

The release comes after two Italian aid workers with North-South Italian Cooperation CINS were freed earlier in the week after being seized in May.

A ransom of $1 million was reportedly paid to secure their release.

Piracy is rife off the coast of Somalia. Cargo ships and luxury yachts have been targeted by heavily armed pirates, who often hold the crews for ransom.

The number of attacks has risen sharply this year, and the United Nations Security Council approved incursions into Somali waters to halt the trend.

Somalia’s weak transitional government, currently engaged in countering a bloody insurgency, is powerless to stop the pirates.

Somalia has been in a state of anarchy since the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

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