Somali pirates on Monday released 22 crew members, including a Sri Lankan national, of a hijacked merchant vessel after ransom was paid to them, media reports said.
The pirates had taken the crew members, including Egyptians and a Sri Lankan, hostage after capturing the vessel MV Suez last year and demanded $2.1 million for their release. The ship belongs to an Egyptian company.
Leading Pakistan rights activist Ansar Burney said who negotiated with the pirates and raised money through donations, said in Karachi that all hostages had been freed. He said they would reach their homes in a few days as arrangements are being made for their repatriation.
The freed Pakistani captain of the ship, Mohammad Wasi, told Geo News channel on phone that all the hostages had been freed. "I am very happy as my release is like a new life for me," he said.
The Somali pirates had threatened the hostages on at least four occasions that they would be killed if the ransom was not paid, Wasi said.
The pirates had given several deadlines and extended them as they were told that the money was being arranged.
The freed hostages include six Indian, four Pakistanis, 11 Egyptians and one Sri Lankan Wasi said. Most of the hostages are sick, he added.
Burney, a former federal minister, said a ship had been hired to take the money to the pirates. He said the people of Pakistan and other countries made donations for the ransom.