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Ex-hostages tell of Somali kidnapping ordeal

Chief engineer of the MV Blida has vowed never to go to sea again Mohamed Ait Ramdane's ordeal did not end when a ransom fell from the sky and the pirates left the ship. After 31 years as a sailor, the chief engineer of the MV Blida has vowed never to go to sea again.Released on November 3 with his 25 fellow crew members, the 55-year-old Algerian is a bruised man, grappling with the same trauma experienced by hundreds of other often anonymous victims of Somali piracy.Held hostage for 10 months, the crew of 17 Algerians, six Ukrainians, two Filipinos, one Jordanian and one Indonesian endured death threats and were deprived of food and clean drinking water while they watched their Somali captors get drunk."At the beginning, we were afraid we would be killed. After that, they killed us every day psychologically," said Ramdane, who talked falteringly about his ordeal from his family home in Hadjout, 70 kilometres (45 miles) west of Algiers."The Somali pirates were on board a Tunisian ship, Hannibal, equipped with three motor boats," he explained.Between 20 and 30 heavily armed pirates then ascended the Blida, cutting the radio and radar as they arrived.Like Ramdane, fellow sailor ...

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Two Pinoy seafarers released by Somali pirates

41 remaining After almost a year, two Filipino seafarers held captive by Somali pirates were finally released.The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the two seamen, along with their fellow crew members aboard the MV Blida cargo ship, were released on Nov. 3. The ship is sailing towards Mombassa, Kenya for medical check-up.According to GMA News Online, their release leaves 41 Filipinos being held in captivity by Somali pirates. It added that the pirates have long been a problem of the Philippine government because of the attacks on Filipino sailors. Nevertheless, the government leaves the negotiating to the ship owners.MV Blida, Greek-owned by registered in Algeria, was hijacked by the pirates on January 1, 2011, 150 nautical miles from Oman.The DFA is yet to announce the names of the Filipinos and the exact date of their repatriation.Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said he already ordered the Philippine Embassy in Nairobi to extend assistance to the seafarers.The Philippines is said to be the largest supplier of ship crew with over 350,000 workers or a fifth of the world's seafarer force.Civil war in Somalia had caused a collapse of government authority in the country which aggravated piracy problems.Source: SaveOurSeafarers

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Somali pirates release Algerian ship and 25 crew

They released the crew of MV Blida - held hostage by pirates for 10 months Somali pirates on Thursday released an Algerian cargo ship and its 25 crew they had been holding hostage for 10 months, the Algerian foreign ministry said.The vessel, the MV Blida, was captured on Jan. 1 while heading to the port of Mombasa in Kenya. The hostages included 17 Algerians. Two crewmen, an Algerian and an Ukrainian, had previously been released on humanitarian grounds."It is with great joy and profound relief that we announce the release this morning of the 25 sailors of the crew of the MV Blida ship held hostage by Somali pirates," foreign ministry spokesman Amar Belani was quoted by the official APS news agency as saying.He said the state of their health "raises no worries." The spokesman gave no details about the nationality of the other sailors."Algeria will make every effort to ensure that the perpetrators of this act of piracy are prosecuted and tried by the competent bodies," he said.He said the cargo vessel was on its way back to Algeria and international naval forces were providing security.Source: Reuters

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