A British couple captured by Somali pirates more than one year ago has been released by their captors.
After just more than a year spent in Somalia, British citizens Paul and Rachel Chandler are finally going home. After a stop in Mogadishu to meet with the Somali prime minister, the two arrived at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport en route to their final destination: London.
The Chandlers were being held near Adado, a town in central Somalia along the Ethiopian border. Another Englishman working for Save the Children, Frans Barnard, was kidnapped along with a local guide near Adado in mid October, but unlike the Chandlers, Barnard was released just one week later.
Administrator Mohammed Aden, of the Himan and Heeb region that includes Adado, told reporters in Nairobi it was the release of Barnard that moved negotiations to free the Chandlers. "As soon as Frans Barnard was released, which was two months ago, we put a lot of pressure to the community, and the diaspora and everybody put a lot of pressure to release Paul and Rachel," he said.
Aden, who received the chandlers in Adado before they were brought to Mogadishu, said the couple was drained by their experience, but otherwise in good health. "They were in good spirits and they were happy to be alive and happy to have their freedom," he said.
The Chandlers will receive full medical examinations before returning them to England.
The two were kidnapped by Somali pirates on October 23 of last year, while sailing in their 38-foot yacht Lynn Revival off the coast of Seychelles.
While no official figure has been released, the ransom paid to secure the couple's release is estimated to be nearly $1 million.
As much as $500,000 in ransom was initially paid several months earlier, but the captors failed to release the Chandlers, prompting fears the money had landed in the wrong hands.
Though the Chandlers are perhaps the highest profile hostages taken by Somali pirates in recent years, there are estimated to be hundreds more hostages being held by Somali pirates - mainly crews of large tankers crossing the Indian Ocean. Analysts say the recent spike in ransoms paid for hijacked ships has spurred more piracy, and also increased the amount of time ships are being held by captors.
Article by Michael Onyiego, VOA News