Bangladeshi ship crew abducted by Somali pirates, arrive in Dhaka

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MOGADISHU, Somalia - Dozens of Bangladeshi cargo ship crew held hostage by Al-Shabaab militants have arrived in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, AFP reports, as their families lined up to usher them in after weeks of captivity.

MV Abdullah was carrying over 55,000 tonnes of coal from Mozambique to the United Arab Emirates but would be seized off Somalia's coast in March, leading to a frantic search by special operations teams, including the Coast Guards.

The seizure came during a surge in Somali pirate activity, with international naval forces diverted from the Gulf of Aden into the Red Sea to guard against attacks on shipping by Yemen's Iran-backed Huthi rebels, AFP adds.

"I thought it was the last day of my life," M. Noor Uddin, one of the 23 crew members who arrived in Chittagong on Tuesday aboard another bulk carrier, told AFP.

"When the pirates attacked the ship, I just tried to remember the face of my son and wished that I could hold him for one last time," he added.

According to A.S.M Saifuzzaman, the Chief Engineer, every minute of the victims was a 'nightmare' in captivity. They were held for 32 days before they were rescued.

"When any other ship crossed the route or came close to our ship, the pirates would hold their guns to our heads," he said. "We never thought this day would ever come."

The Somali pirates freed the MV Abdullah after its Bangladeshi owners, KSRM Group, paid a hefty ransom that was air-dropped over the vessel in sackloads of US dollars. However, the amount paid was not disclosed.

The hijackers had given the crew a letter of safe passage in Somali promising "the ship would not come under any more attacks by pirates until it reached Dubai port".

Cases of piracy have surged in Somalia for the last four months, triggering complaints from members of the international community. The US and other international partners have dispatched elite teams to man deep waters along the 3,333 kilometers of coastline.

GAROWE ONLINE

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