17 kidnapped Filipino sailors freed by Somali pirates
www.chinaview.cn 2008-12-10 16:19:47   Print

    MANILA, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- Somali pirates freed 17 Filipino seamen after more than two months of captivity, while 91 Filipino sailors still remain in the custody of ransom-seeking armed bandits, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday.

    The Filipino sailors were kidnapped in the Gulf of Aden last Sept. 21, when heavily armed Somali pirates hijacked their Greek cargo ship MV Captain Stefanos as it sailed through the dangerous waters.

    They were freed Monday night, according to Foreign Undersecretary Esteban Conejos, who said the freed seamen were "safe and in good health."

    The sailors are on their way to Italy and will proceed to Greece where they will be met by the ship-owners, Conejos said.

    Conejos did not say if ransom was paid to secure the seafarers' freedom. He said in the past that the government would not pay ransom and negotiate directly with kidnappers as a policy.

    The Philippines supplies a third of all of the world's sailors. The 350,000 Filipino sailors fanning out the globe work on major oil tankers, luxury liners and passenger vessels, which are exposed to pirate attacks in dangerous regions.

    Manila has been in a dilemma on how to provide protection for the sailors. It says that banning Filipinos from certain risky regions would be difficult because of the rapid mobility of the sailors and its lack of ability to monitor their movement.

Editor: Deng Shasha
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