Couple held by Somali pirates return to Britain

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Paul and Rachel Chandler finally returned to Britain on Tuesday following a 13-month ordeal in captivity at the hands of Somali pirates.

The couple, from Tunbridge Wells, southeast of London, landed at the capital's Heathrow Airport on a flight from Nairobi.

They had been recuperating in the Kenyan capital at the residence of the British high commissioner (ambassador).

Looking tired, the pair smiled as they walked down the steps of the plane to meet waiting airport officials. They were shown to a waiting vehicle.

Paul Chandler, 60, and his 57-year-old wife were seized by pirates on their yacht in October last year as they sailed from the Seychelles for Tanzania.

They were released on Sunday after a deal was struck with the pirates.

According to Somali elders and sources close to the tortuous negotiations, a total ransom of at least 750,000 dollars (550,000 euros) was paid for their release.

The Chandlers' plight generated considerable interest in Britain and became one of the most high-profile hostage cases in Somalia's recent, troubled history but the British government has a strict policy of not paying any ransoms.

They were handed over to local officials in the Somali town of Adado, before being flown to the capital Mogadishu and on to Nairobi.

© 2010 AFP

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