Two Pakistani sailors of cargo ship MV Iceberg-1 have reached home after their release by Somali pirates along with 20 other crew members of the vessel.
The sailors — Ali Muhammad and Gul Bacha — reached their homes in Swat district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, according to press release issued by the Ansar Burney Trust on Saturday. Following their release, the two sailors reached Islamabad before departing for Swat.
The trust’s chief, Ansar Burney, said that he started negotiations with Somali pirates after the vessel’s owner called off talks for the release of the crew. The trust managed to secure the release of Muhammad and Bacha, along with 20 other MV Iceberg-1 crewmembers, he added.
MV Iceberg-1 was hijacked on March 29, 2010 about 10 nautical miles off the port of Aden, Yemen, outside the International Recommended Transit Corridor. It was carrying a mixed cargo of general mechanical equipment and was bound for Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates.
The vessel originally had a 24-member crew, comprising eight nationals from Yemen, six from India, four from Ghana, two from Pakistan and Sudan each, and one from the Philippines.
On October 27, 2010, crewmember Wagdi Akram allegedly committed suicide by jumping overboard. The Azal Shipping Company, however, maintains that Akram was reportedly beaten and starved, adding this could have led to his death.
According to unconfirmed reports, the ship’s chief engineer may also have been killed by the pirates sometime between March and June, 2011.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2012.
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