Hijacked Lankan crew return

The Sri Lankan crew members who were onboard the Bermudan-flagged merchant vessel which was captured by Somali pirates, have safely arrived in Colombo after their nearly two months ordeal of being in captivity, the Gulf Times reported.

A Ministry of External Affairs source said that 18 of the 23 member crew that was captured by Somali pirates on March 23, on board the MV Talca was flown to Colombo from Sharjah, the UAE.

“After negotiation and continuously being in contact with the shipping company we managed to ensure the safe return of our Sri Lankan crew members. Only 18 of them came back to Sri Lanka while the rest have decided to stay in Sharjah where they have got new assignments,” he said.

The crew was released on May 11 and was due to reach Oman. However the shipping company had decided to change the course to Sharjah.

In the meantime negotiations between the Somali pirates and the International Bunkering Company (IBCO) are underway to facilitate the release of 13 Sri Lankan crew members who were on board the MV Nassar Al Saud on March 1.

“We are working very closely with IBCO. This is a very delicate matter and it cannot be rushed. The ministry has been co-ordinating very closely with our foreign mission in the region to ensure the Sri Lankan crew members are sent home,” an official from the External Affairs Ministry said. The Somali pirates are said to have asked for a $20mn ransom for the release of the crew, the Gulf Times said.

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