SOMALIA: British couple kidnapped by Somali pirates freed after ransom payment

Published: November 14, 2010

A British couple kidnapped from their yacht by Somali pirates more than a year ago have been freed after a ransom was paid.
Paul and Rachel Chandler, 61 and 56, from Tunbridge Wells, were handed over by the pirates to officials in Adado, central Somalia, early this morning.
“The Chandlers are with me now. They are free and safe,” Mohamed Aden Tiicey, a senior official in Adado, told Reuters. He confirmed that a ransom had been handed over to the pirates.
After being freed the couple were given phones to call relatives before having breakfast and taking a shower. In brief comments to local reporters they said that they were fine and happy to be free after their 388-day ordeal.
A plane chartered by a security company working on their release was due to fly them to the capital, Mogadishu, and then to Kenya.
The couple were spending their retirement sailing the world on their 38ft yacht Lynn Rival when they were captured on October 23 last year, soon after departing the Seychelles for Tanzania. They were forced to sail to Somalia, where they were taken onto land.
The pirates demanded a £4m ransom – the kind of sum they would receive from oil companies after capturing supertankers – which was far beyond the means of Chandlers. The British government has a policy of not paying ransoms and was unable to assist.
Relatives of the Chandlers hired a specialist negotiating team. At least one deal to free the couple collapsed at the last moment, reportedly after a ransom payment had been made in Somalia. The Somali government and diaspora groups also tried to help, but failed.
Meanwhile the Chandlers were shifted around Somalia’s arid central region. Both suffered health problems at various times and complained of ill-treatment by their captors.
After a final deal was sealed earlier this week, the couple were driven overnight from the town of Amara to Adado. While Adado is considered reasonably safe, a British security consultant was kidnapped there in October. Dozens of militiamen allied to local administration were assigned to guard them until the plane leaves for Mogadishu.
Source: The Guardian

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