Published On: Sat, Sep 21st, 2019

Somali pirates free Iranian hostage

Garowe, Somalia(ANN)-Somali pirates have released a sick Iranian hostage they captured more than four years ago due to his urgent need to medical care, a humanitarian group says.

The Iranian man, identified as Mohammad Shariff Panahandeh, was flown to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, from the city of Garowe on Saturday, the Hostage Support Partnership (HSP), the charity that negotiated his release, said in a statement.

“He’s severely malnourished. He lost a huge amount of weight. It reminded me of someone who’s just been released from Belsen (a Nazi) concentration camp,” John Steed of the HSP said.

He added that Panahandeh’s health had deteriorated significantly in recent weeks and he was suffering from “severe stomach problems and internal bleeding.”

His release meant that just three other hostages now remain in the custody of Somali pirates, Steed further said, adding that their Iranian fishing vessel had been captured in March 2015.

According to the organization, Panahandeh will return to Iran in the coming days after medical tests, adding that the remaining hostages are being held in “appalling conditions.”

The HSP said Somali community leaders had been crucial in the negotiations.

Piracy used to be a major problem in the Gulf of Aden as Somali pirates frequently attacked ships, seized their cargoes and kidnapped crew members, later demanding ransom for their release. Over the past years, the threat has largely subsided after international warships were deployed to the area to protect vessels.

The Iranian Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008 to safeguard maritime traffic, especially for the country’s ships and oil tankers.

About the Author

- #Arraale Mohamoud Jama is a freelance journalist and human rights activist with more than 20 years of experience as a professional journalist and human rights activist, as well as a writer and investigative journalist on a wide range of topics related to social issues, human rights, politics and security, economics, democracy, and good governance. He has written extensively on regional and international events, and has worked Somaliland newspapers, and Human rights organization. In 2008, he created the website #Araweelo #News #Network, and is based in Somaliland and is currently managing it; #Arraale is a specialist in investigating and reporting on human rights, democracy, security, and good governance issues. Contact: Send an SMS or MMS to + 252 63 442 5380 + 252 63 442 5380 /

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