The Somali pirates released 22 sailors, 18 of them Indians including the captain of the ship Prabhat Kumar Goel and also released the ship Stolt Valor on 16th November’08, which was hijacked by them on 15th September’08 in the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden. The ship was carrying 23,818 tones of oil products.
An estimated ransom between $1 million and $2.5 million has been paid to the pirates as per Sunil Nair, spokesperson for National Union of Seafarers of India. But Union’s secretary Abdul Gani declined to go into the amount and said that a ransom has definitely been paid.
The release of the ship’s crew comes five days after commandos of an Indian Navy warship patrolling the gulf area foiled an attempt by pirates to hijack an Indian merchant ship with 20 sailors on board.
The released sailors were apparently in good health with no major medical problems and Indian sailors would reach Mumbai in four to five days.
An elated Seema Goel, wife of the Captain P.K.Goel said in Dehradun, “I don’t know what to say. This is the happiest news of my life.” During the two-month long captivity, pirates allowed Goel to speak once only to the family on October’15.
Meanwhile a Japanese Ship with a crew of 5 South Koreans and 18 Filipinos has been hijacked on the night of 15th November’08, 155Km east of Somalia.
Because of the economic importance of the waterways, the Gulf of Aden has become an area of active Somali pirate operations and India has deployed a warship to thwart attempt by pirates to hijack ships. Further details are available in my article on the similar subject by clicking the link below.