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Fishermen's pirate ordeal ends

Spanish navy rescues six crew following operation off Tanzania coast

Family members conducting daily prayer services in their houses Family members conducting daily prayer services in their houses
  • ucanews.com reporter, Negombo
  • Sri Lanka
  • April 20, 2012
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Six Sri Lankan fishermen held by Somali pirates for the past seven months were rescued yesterday by Spanish naval forces.

An armed team from the warship Infanta Elena intercepted and boarded their hijacked trawler about 50 nautical miles off the coast of Tanzania and found the six Sri Lankans and seven suspected Somali pirates.

The pirates had been using the fishing vessel as a mother ship.

The crew's seven-month ordeal began when they and their boat were seized during a fishing voyage in October. The pirates later demanded US$6 million ransom for their release.

Government officials in Colombo say they are looking to bring the fishermen home as soon as possible.

“We have been informed about the rescue of the six fishermen,” said Sarath Dissanayake, a senior official at
the External Affairs Ministry.

“Now we are working on getting them back to Sri Lanka,” he said.

He said the freed men, from Negombo, about 40km north of Colombo, had already spoken to their families by phone.

“We were so happy to hear their voices. It ended a seven-month nightmare for all of us,” said S Kamala, wife of Raja Selvaraja one of the former captives.

“My husband called me and he said that they were rescued by a foreign navy after a battle with Somali pirates,” Kamala said.

“We had prayed to God, we did not have any other option,” she said. “It’s a miracle for us.”


Related reports

Families plead for lives of fishermen

Caritas wins fishermen’s release



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