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Families plead for lives of fishermen

Action sought after lost loved ones turn up in hands of Somali pirates

Family members are conducting daily prayer services in their houses Family members are conducting daily prayer services in their houses
  • ucanews.com reporter, Negombo
  • Sri Lanka
  • February 7, 2012
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The families of six fishermen thought lost at sea but who had in fact been abducted by Somali pirates have pleaded to the government to free their loved ones.

The fishermen were abducted in the Indian Ocean last October. However, the families had assumed they had been lost at sea and were only informed of their capture last month after the pirates demanded a US$6 million ransom.

All the fishermen are from the town of Negombo, about 40km north of Colombo.

“We only found out their boat was seized by Somali pirates in January. [They] had demanded an unthinkable amount,” said Rohini Fernando, the sister of one of the fishermen Jude Nishantha.

“We pray the government will intervene and save them,” she added.

She said the Church through her parish priest has offered support to the families and promised to help get them back.

The boat owner said he also thought the men had been lost until he got a call from the pirates last month demanding $1 million for each of the captives.

He said the pirates threatened to shoot them and let the families hear the shooting over the phone unless the ransom is not paid.

Government minister Rajitha Senarathne said negotiations have already begun through an intermediary for their safe return.

“We tried to go through the Somali government but it has no contacts with the pirates, so now we are trying through a third party,” he said.

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