Somali pirates release 18 Filipino sailors

17:38, March 01, 2010      

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Eighteen Filipino sailors of a Greek vessel were released by Somali pirates after two months in captivity, the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) said Monday.

This development brings down to five the total number of Filipino seafarers in the custody of ransom-seeking pirates off Somalia.

The 52,073-ton Greek owned Panama flagged Bulk Carrier MV Navios Apollon was hijacked on December 28 and released on Feb. 28. The vessel is now heading to Oman.

EU NAVFOR Somalia's main tasks include escorting merchant vessels carrying humanitarian aid of the World Food Program (WFP) and vessels of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM); protecting vulnerable ships in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean; and deterring and disrupting piracy. EU NAVFOR also monitors fishing activity off the coast of Somalia.

The Philippines is the world's leading supplier of ship crew with over 350,000 sailors, or about a fifth of the world's seafarers, manning oil tankers, luxury liners, and passenger vessels worldwide, exposing them to piracy attacks. More than 200 Filipino seamen have been abducted by ransom-seeking pirates off Somali waters since 2008.

As a policy, the Philippine government does not negotiate nor pay ransom to kidnappers, but gives ship owners the free hand in negotiating for the release of abducted Filipino sailors.

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