Pirates to set Sri Lankans free

Somali pirates have agreed to release the crew of a ship hijacked in November 2010 which includes seven Sri Lankans, the Gulf News reported.

The cargo ship MV Albedo was hijacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden. Although, no ransom is being paid, the representatives of the families, led by senior political leaders from Pakistan have successfully negotiated with the pirates to pay the expenses incurred by them since they were captured.

The pirates had initially demanded a ransom of $10 million (Dh36.7 million), which the owner declined to pay and the families couldn’t afford.

“We have been in contact with the pirates through the tribal leaders of Somalia for the past several months and we made it clear to them that we are unable to pay the ransom, but we have agreed to pay the expenses incurred by them over the last 17 months,” said Ahmad Chinoy, Chief of the Citizens Police Liaison Committee in Sindh, Pakistan, who has been at the forefront of negotiations.

The two parties finally agreed on $50 per person per day as the expenses incurred by the pirates.

Although the agreement has raised hopes of the families finally seeing their loved ones, there is still one obstacle to be overcome — arranging the amount and transferring it to the pirates within the April 20 deadline.

The cargo vessel was hijacked following a Hollywood-style chase on November 26, 2010.

Since then, one crew member, an Indian, has died from cholera. While the others, seven Pakistanis including the captain, seven Sri Lankans, six Bangladeshis and one Iranian have survived the ordeal, each losing 20kg to 30kg.

The pirates have agreed to refuel the ship and provide the supplies and provisions to reach the closest port.