African Press International (API)

"Daily Online News Channel".

German couple freed by Somali pirates

Posted by African Press International on August 10, 2008

A German couple kidnapped by Somali pirates in late June as they sailed through the Gulf of Aden has been finally released, local officials said on Saturday.

The German hostages have been released on Friday night and handed to the Puntland administration, but they reached the port town of Bosasso at dawn this morning under the escort of the police, the governor of Bari region Muse Geele Yusuf told APA by telephone.

The mayor of Bossaso Abdi-risaq Hared Ismail said 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 nations coast on June 23 and demanded a ransom of 2 million dollars.

For the last two months, negotiations for their release by officials from the two rival administrations of Puntland and Somali-land have been going on, but it was not clear if any ransom had been paid to free the hostages.

The pirates have been holding the captives near a mountain, which is believed to be a pirate stronghold, in the disputed region of Sanaag.

A local clan elder in the region, Dahir Hamud Godane, who was involved in the negotiations, said half of the demanded ransom was paid to the pirates, but the Puntland officials had declined to comment on that.

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 dollars 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 crew for ransom.



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