23/12/2012 Africa
Puntland forces Liberate mv ICEBERG I from Pirates
Saga of longest-held ransom ship comes to an end - reports

Photo: Puntland Maritime Police Force in training

According to official sources and press, Puntland forces have taken over Garacad, the stronghold of Somali pirates and liberated the mv ICEBERG I, which has been the saddest longest saga of any vessel captured by pirates in recent times.

There had been a tense standoff since the 10th of December when Puntland Maritime Police Force attempted to overwhelm pirates holding the mv ICEBERG I.

The ship was first seized way back on March 29th 2010 in the Gulf of Aden. She is a Panama-flagged roll-on/roll-off cargo vessel owned by Azal Shipping in Dubai.

Relatives of the crew have had a worrying and anxious time, with reports of deaths aboard the ship as well as conflicting reports about the vessel's fate. Earlier this year it was understood negotiations with pirates had succeeded in releasing the vessel but this proved to be a false dawn.

However it seems the worst trials of the hostages still aboard the ship are now over. According to reports 22 crewmen are now receiving much needed medical care and nutrition.

One crewmember is known to have died, and is reported as being suicide, driven to despair by the situation he was in. Akram Wagdi, the ship's third officer is said to have leapt overboard in October 2010.

The ship's engineer has been reported as being killed by the pirates but there are no confirmed reports of this, though today's statement from Puntland seems to back up the loss of two members of the original crew of 24 since the hijacking.