Bangladeshi Ship Crew Abducted By Somali Pirates Return Home

In a heartwarming development, nearly two dozen Bangladeshi cargo ship crew members, who were abducted by Somali pirates, have finally returned home after enduring weeks of captivity. The crew members were welcomed back with open arms by their families after a harrowing ordeal that captured international attention.

The bulk carrier MV Abdullah, owned by the Bangladeshi company KSRM Group, was transporting more than 55,000 tonnes of coal from Mozambique to the United Arab Emirates when it was seized by dozens of armed pirates around 550 nautical miles (1,000 kilometers) off the Somali coast in March. The incident occurred during a surge in Somali pirate activity, with international naval forces diverted from the Gulf of Aden into the Red Sea to guard against attacks on shipping by Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

The 23 crew members endured a traumatic experience during their 32 days in captivity. M. Noor Uddin, one of the crew members, expressed his gratitude for being reunited with his family. “I thought it was the last day of my life,” he said, recalling the moment the pirates attacked the ship. “When the pirates attacked the ship, I just tried to remember the face of my son and wished that I could hold him for one last time.”

Chief engineer A.S.M Saifuzzaman, 46, described their ordeal as a “nightmare”. “When any other ship crossed the route or came close to our ship, the pirates would hold their guns to our heads,” he said. “We never thought this day would ever come.”

Family members waited for hours at the port to greet their returning relatives, some waving small Bangladeshi flags as the crew disembarked from another bulk carrier. The scenes of emotional reunions highlighted the relief felt by both the crew members and their families.

The Somali pirates freed the MV Abdullah after KSRM Group paid a hefty ransom, the amount of which was not disclosed. The ransom was air-dropped over the vessel in sackloads of US dollars. Following the payment, the vessel continued its journey to the United Arab Emirates, escorted by two European Union ships.

The capture of the MV Abdullah came after the first successful case of Somali piracy since 2017 was recorded in December. This incident, along with subsequent attacks, has fueled concerns about a resurgence of Indian Ocean raids by opportunistic pirates exploiting a security gap after the redeployment of international forces.

Naval forces, including those from India, Sri Lanka, and the Seychelles, have been actively engaged in combating piracy in the region. In March, Indian commandos boarded and recaptured the Maltese-flagged MV Ruen, which had been seized by pirates in December. All 17 hostages were rescued, and 35 alleged pirates were brought to Mumbai to face prosecution.

The safe return of the Bangladeshi ship crew marks the end of a traumatic ordeal for the individuals involved and highlights the ongoing threat of piracy in the Indian Ocean region. While the safe return of the crew members is a cause for celebration, the incident underscores the need for continued vigilance and international cooperation to combat piracy in the region.

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