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The Mv Iceberg 1 released (update)

(BRUSSELS2) After several days of blockade, and a failed attempt, the forces of the maritime police of Puntland succeeded in freeing today (December 23), the 22 members of the crew of the Mv Iceberg 1 held on board their ship near the coastal village of Gara'ad in the Mudug region, said a statement from the authorities of this autonomous province of Somalia, received by B2. After 2 years and 9 months of captivity, the sailors present " signs of physical torture and illness he says. They are currently receiving medical care and food ».

Abandoned by its owner

Flying the Panamanian flag, the Mv Iceberg 1 which belongs to the company Azal Shipping & Cargo of Dubai, had been captured in the Gulf of Aden by the pirates on March 29, 2010. It is the oldest of the ships currently in the hands of the pirates. And it cannot be said that it aroused great interest from its owner. The latter not only refused to pay the requested ransom, but also stopped any payment of pay to the families of the detained sailors. The Indian government, in turn solicited by the families of the detained sailors, also refused to pay the ransom.

One of the only photos of six of the sailors of the crew held hostage. It is not recent (source: MV Iceberg 1 Mariners Action Group)

A crew reduced to 22 sailors

The crew originally consisted of 24 sailors, according to the B2 database: 9 Yemenis, 6 Indians, 4 Ghanaians, 2 Sudanese, 2 Pakistanis, 1 Filipino. And according to the Eunavfor database they were only 22 at the beginning of 2012. One of them (a Yemenite) is died while in custody (malnutrition, suicide or murder). Another sailor (Indian) has disappeared. According to the testimonies of the survivors, the conditions were very difficult, even horrible (read here). The sailors were until recently dispersed and detained in several places in the territory or on ships. They were recently regrouped on their ship.

A blockade started on December 10

What decided the forces of Puntland to act and to begin on December 10 a blockade of the ship. A first attempt failed on December 11, leaving 3 pirates dead and 4 Puntland forces injured. On Saturday (December 22), according to Garowe online, the maritime police force (PMPF) had invaded the village of Gara'ad, a long-time pirate stronghold. without encountering resistance ". Lacking food and food, the kidnappers had thus released two hostages.

A little boost ?

The local forces could have received help in terms of intelligence — in particular from the various maritime patrol planes of the anti-piracy coalition forces (Eunavfor and Ocean Shield) which fly over the area — or even at sea or on land from forces whose the number and nationality remains to be specified.

Read also: Failed attempt to free Mv Iceberg 1 hostages

Maj (Monday Dec. 24): details given on the fate of the missing sailors

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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