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Indian sailors freed after four years in pirate captivity

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Captured Indian sailors of MV Asphalt Venture.

Captured Indian sailors of MV Asphalt Venture.
Captured Indian sailors of MV Asphalt Venture.

Seven Indian sailors on vessel MV Asphalt Venture, kidnapped off east Africa by Somali pirates in September 2010, have been released, a functionary in Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s office said.

“Of the seven, two are Keralites and one from Kanyakumari (Tamil Nadu). They have been released today and are now being moved to an Indian embassy in an African country according to the wife of one of the Keralites who was in captivity.

“She called us to say thanks to our chief minister who has been pursuing this case with two successive governments and even early this month when he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he took up the issue,” the official in Chandy’s office said.

The Panama-flagged vessel, owned by a joint venture of a British and Middle-East company, got pirated near Tanzania on its way to Durban (South Africa) from Mombasa (Kenya) on Sep 28, 2010.

Mercy George, wife of one of the kidnapped sailors George Joseph, 50, first engineer on board the ship, thanked Chandy for his untiring efforts.

Even though the seven were in captivity, they used to off and on call up their families and that was a big relief. The immediate family members of the two from Kerala have been to Delhi on three occasions to meet up with central ministers to take up the case.

The second Keralite is 60-year old B.N.Unnikrishnan, the second officer of the ship. His wife had even met then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek help.