One Pakistani, 17 Indians freed from Somali pirates

KARACHI: Ansar Burney Trust International said on Saturday that one Pakistani and 17 Indians on board tanker MT Royal Grace, which had been hijacked by Somali pirates for the last one year, were released on Friday in view of hectic efforts of Pakistani human & civil rights activist and former federal minister for human rights, Ansar Burney.

The oil ship, which was hijacked on March 2 last year near Oman, had begun its journey from Dubai and was on its way to Nigeria with 22 crew members, including a Pakistani, a Bangladeshi, 17 Indians and three Nigerians. One Nigerian died on vessel last year due to lack of medication.

The hostages’ families had been protesting in Pakistan and India for the past few months asking the governments to help them. With no progress in sight, the families contacted Syed Fahad Burney, Vice Chairman of Ansar Burney Trust, who wrote to NATO forces and secured their release.

Ansar Burney Trust had also ensured the release of Pakistani and Indian hostages in 2011 and 2012 with the help of NATO forces.

The International Ambassador for Peace and Human Rights, Ansar Burney, said on Saturday, “Another great success of Ansar Burney Trust as all the crew members of MT Royal Grace have been released from Somali pirates and in this regard I am thankful to NATO.

He said the hostages were being taken to Oman to make arrangements for their return back to their respective countries. “We have learnt that my brother has been released and we are awaiting his return.”