Pirates in Somalia have released 26 Asian hostages held captive for nearly five years after their fishing vessel was hijacked, negotiators said Saturday.
The crew of the Naham 3, the second longest held hostages by Somali pirates, were taken captive when their Omani-flagged vessel was hijacked in March 2012 south of the Seychelles.
"We are very pleased to announce the release of the Naham 3 crew early this morning," said John Steed, the Coordinator of the Hostage Support Partners (HSP) who helped negotiate their release, in a statement released by Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP).
He said they were in the hands of authorities in Galmudug, in central Somalia, and would be repatriated on a United Nations humanitarian flight before being sent back to their home countries.
Pirates initially took 29 crew hostage, but one person died during the hijacking, and two more "succumbed to illness" during their captivity, said the statement.
"The remaining 26 crew members spent much of their captivity on land in Somalia. The crew of the Naham 3 consisted of members from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam," said the statement.