4 Iranian Fishermen freed from Somali Pirates

Mogadishu – Four Iranian fishermen have been freed in Somalia after security forces rescued them from a pirate gang, security officials said on Thursday.
Local elder Mohamed Moalim Abdirahman said the men appeared “healthy” despite their ordeal, but that the pirate gang still held as many as nine other hostages, all believed to be from Iran.
“Security forces rescued four Iranians who have been held hostage by pirates,” said Abdirahman Mohamed, a security official in central Somalia’s Galgadud region.
Gerry Northwood, COO to MAST, commented, “while this release of fishermen hostages is very welcome, the situation with Somali pirate hostages is far from clear. Too many seafarers remain held hostage by Somalis from the days when they were pirating commercial shipping in the Indian Ocean, and since then there have been several cases of hostage taking from vessels fishing in Somali waters.
During the time I spent conducting counter-piracy operations in the Somali Basin for NATO and the UK Royal Navy we were directly involved in the rescue of commercial vessel seafarers and regional fishermen from the Somali pirates. Aside from the fact that we have made the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden a safer place for commercial seafarers, it is clear that the situation has not changed appreciably for regional seafarers. They are pawns in a turf war being played out between various Somali Clan leaders and Government officials.
None of this builds confidence that the Somalis along the Puntland and Galmudgud coast will be able to move on from the current winner takes all approach to politics and economic activity. They are a long way from where they need to be. Which is to establish well organised and accountable state institutions so that state and regional politicians have the headroom to enforce a stable, and sustainable, security and regulatory regime along the Somali coast and in Somali territorial and economic zone waters.
Sadly, until they do so, we can look forward to many more months and years of hostage taking of seafarers and hijackings of vessels operating close to Somali waters”.
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