Hostages off Somalia given supplies, reported to be in good health

10th April 2008, Comments 0 comments

Fresh supplies been delivered to hostages and kidnappers on a luxury yacht held for the last six days by pirates off the coast of Somalia

   NAIROBI, April 10, 2008  - Fresh supplies been delivered to hostages and kidnappers on a luxury yacht held for the last six days by pirates off the coast of Somalia, a local rights group said Wednesday.
   "We have provided water and food, which the boat needed, and we will
continue to give them what we can," Mohamud Abdulkadir 'John' of the Somali
Tribal Rights Watch (STRW) organisation told AFP.
   At the pirates' request, the 32-cabin Ponant was given the essentials it
needs for them to bed in during lengthy ransom negotiations.
   The ship remains moored in waters near a village, Garaad, on the
north-eastern Somali coast, by the self-proclaimed autonomous region of
Puntland.
   The hostages, including 22 French nationals and six Filipinos, with early
information identifying the remainder as Ukrainian nationals, were said by the
STRW official to be in good health and not endangered by their captors.
   "The pirates asked for food and water and we gave them what they wanted on
humanitarian grounds," the representative said. "For now, we have nothing to
do with this business beyond a humanitarian involvement.
   "The hostages are not ill and they have not been threatened by their
kidnappers. We will continue to monitor their humanitarian needs," the man
added.
   Another member of the non-governmental organisation told AFP that the
abducted Ponant crew was "in good spirits".
   A French naval warship has been maintaining close surveillance of the boat
with troops from the French gendarmerie's elite counter-terrorism and hostage
rescue unit stationed in nearby Djibouti.
   President Nicolas Sarkozy has met with the families of the French hostages,
with Sarkozy's foreign minister Bernard Kouchner saying "contact" has been
established in a bid to negotiate a release.
   Experts have told AFP the Ponant is likely in the hands of a powerful armed
gang known as the Somali Marines, structured along formal army lines and
enjoying tribal warlord protection with separate business associates handling
ransom talks.
   Kouchner has himself said that negotiations could take some time, with
these experts warning that pirates in the area -- ravaged by conflict since
1991 -- have been known to wait weeks or longer when seeking to maximise
returns from higher-profile seizures.

AFP 

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