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Somali pirates free two hostages from Algerian ship

ALGIERS, Oct 12 – Somali pirates holding an Algerian bulk carrier since January 1 have released two of its 27 crewmen, including one Algerian on humanitarian grounds, the foreign ministry said here Wednesday.

Algerian foreign ministry spokesman Amar Belani said in a statement sent to the official news agency APS that one Algerian was released on “humanitarian grounds” together with a second crew member “with foreign citizenship.”

He did not provide the names of the freed seamen.

The Algerian sailor “was taken to hospital”, the minister said without specifying where and adding only that his condition was not giving cause for concern.

The MV Blida was captured on January 1 on its way from Salalah in Oman to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania with a crew of 17 Algerians, six Ukrainians including the captain, two Filipinos, an Indonesian and a Jordanian.

“The Algerian authorities remain fully mobilised to ensure the release of all our compatriots as soon as possible,” the spokesman was quoted as saying by APS.

Relatives of the Algerian hostages have organised regular protests to demand more effective government action to secure the crew’s release.

Algeria has an official policy of not paying ransoms and has asked the UN General Assembly to criminalise ransom payments to pirates.

The MV Blida’s registered owner is Algeria’s International Bulk Carriers (IBC). The ship is managed by a company based in Greece.

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According to Ecoterra International, an environmental and human rights NGO monitoring maritime activity in the region, Somali pirates still hold at least 46 vessels and close to 500 seamen.


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