Somali pirates free British couple

Somali pirates free British couple

An AFP correspondent said the Chandlers arrived in Adado, a central Somali town near the Ethiopian border, after the pirates handed them over to the forces of the local self-proclaimed administration of Himan and Heeb.

The couple looked tired but happy as they were given mobile phones to make calls to their relatives as soon as they entered the safety of the compound housing the administration headquarters.

"They are OK. They are being given breakfast now," said Abdi Mohamed Helmi "Hangul", a Somali surgeon who was instrumental in the Chandlers' release.

"They look in relatively good health but they need to be checked," he told AFP.
The Chandlers were wearing the same clothes they have worn during most of their 388-day captivity and were invited to take a shower upon arriving at the compound of Himan and Heeb president, Mohamed Aden "Tiiceey".

A deal was struck with the pirates this week and although no official involved in the negotiation spoke of a ransom, local elders in the region said the Chandlers were exchanged for money.

The couple were driven overnight from the central Somali town of Amara, around which they spent most of their captivity, to Adado.The freed couple from the southern English region of Kent were expected in the coming hours to fly out of Adado.

A plane left Wilson airport in Nairobi shortly after their arrival in Adado and was due to bring them back to the Kenyan capital later today.

An elder had told AFP on Saturday that the pirates had agreed to free the Chandlers following the payment of 320,000 dollars on top of 400,000 dollars already received
Other elders said the total ransom may have reached close to a million dollars.
The British government has a strict policy of not paying any ransoms.

The money known to have been paid to the pirates, a considerably smaller amount than what their colleagues have been earning from shipowners for cargo, fishing and other vessels, is believed to have been gathered by the Chandler family and members of the Somali diaspora.

The pirates had initially demanded seven million dollars.The Chandlers were kidnapped on October 23 last year, a day after leaving the Seychelles, where they had spent several weeks on holiday.

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