2 Philippine sailors freed by Somalia pirates

Other News Materials 17 November 2008 14:25 (UTC +04:00)

Two Filipino seamen were freed after more than two months of captivity off Somalia, where pirates still hold 90 Filipino sailors for ransom, the Philippine government said Monday.

The released sailors were kidnapped in the Gulf of Aden on Sept.15, when heavily-armed Somali pirates hijacked their Japanese cargo ship M/T Stolt Valor as it sailed through the pirate-infested African waters, reported Xinhua.

They were described by Foreign Undersecretary Esteban Conejos as "safe and in good condition" when the two were freed on Sunday. The sailors were being moved to Mumbai, India, where they will stay before being brought back to the Philippines.

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

On Saturday, three more Filipino seamen on board Chinese fishing vessel Tuanyu Eight were again abducted by pirates at the East Somalian Coast. They were reported unharmed.

The Philippines is a major source of the world's sailors but Manila has been in a dilemma on how to provide protection to a growing number of its citizens who wish to bite the hardship of working as sailors for better payment.