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Somali pirates release three Iranian hostages held for five years August 24,2020   |  Source: The National

Somali pirates released three Iranian hostages after five years, a security official said on Thursday, as conflicting reports emerged about whether another ship had been seized after a three-year pause in hijackings.

The three Iranians were the last of the crew of the fishing vessel FV Siraj, which was captured by pirates on March 22, 2015. Between 2010 and 2019, more than 2,300 crew were taken.

“This marks the end of an era of Somali piracy and the pain and suffering of Somalia’s forgotten hostages,” said John Steed, the co-ordinator of the Hostage Support Programme organisation in Nairobi, Kenya.

But six armed men hijacked the Panama-flagged Aegean II on Wednesday after engine problems were reported, a regional governor in Somalia said.

Musse Salah, the governor of Gardafu in the semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland, said the ship was travelling from the UAE to Mogadishu when pirates attacked it in the first successful hijacking since 2017.

There were 20 crew onboard, a resident in contact with the men who seized the ship said.

A regional security official said the men appeared to have links to a militia police unit in the Bari region of north-eastern Somalia.

Jay Bahadur, a Somali piracy analyst and former head of a UN group of experts

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