Somali pirates have freed seven Bangladeshi crew held hostage abroad a Malaysian flagged vessels for over three and a half years, said a foreign ministry official yesterday.
The Bangladeshis were on board MV Albedo when it was hijacked by Somali pirates on November 26, 2010.
They have been released by their captors and are being flown to Nairobi by a special aircraft of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Kenya, mentioned the official.
The seven are expected to join their families in Bangladesh soon.
The UNODC authority and Bangladesh High Commission in Nairobi will receive the freed sailors in Nairobi, where they will undergo check-ups at the Aga Khan Hospital.
Preliminary reports received from the Bangladesh HC confirmed that all seven are in good health and would be staying at a local hotel. The mission has already been instructed to prepare their travel documents.
As soon as the required formalities were completed by the UNODC, Bangladesh's Nairobi mission will arrange passage for the seven to return to Bangladesh.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina directed all concerned to do whatever was necessary for the speedy and safe release of the Bangladeshi sailors from captivity.
The foreign ministry initially confirmed through the Maritime Piracy and Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) based in London, quoting sources in the UN office for Somalia and Nairobi, that the seven Bangladeshis were alive.
The authorities concerned of Malaysia were approached since the ship owner is a Malaysian national. The High Commissioner of Malaysia in Dhaka was also requested by the foreign ministry to use their good offices in arranging release of the Bangladeshi crew.
However, following a series of meetings and interactions with the Malaysian authorities, the foreign ministry was informed that the Malaysian authorities were unable to use their good offices due to the fact that the Malaysian owner had already abandoned the ship.
At the initiative by Dhaka, an MPHRP team visited the family members of the abducted crews in Chittagong.
The MPHRP also agreed to pay $200 per month to the families of the hostages, said a foreign ministry media release.
The issue was sensitive and as a priority, the foreign ministry was doing everything possible to keep close contacts with all concerned for the safe return of the Bangladeshis.
The government appreciated the assistance of the UNODC and MPHRP for their continued support and assistance in the release of the seven Bangladeshis.