Danish hostages now in Somali village

2011-03-06 17:47

Mogadishu - A group of seven Danes, including three adolescents, who were captured by pirates in the Indian Ocean over a week ago are now being detained in a village in northeast Somalia, an official said on Sunday.

The Johansen family - a couple in their 50s and their three children - along with two other Danes were being held captive in the mountain village of Hul-Anod and in good health, said Said Adam Ali, the mayor of a neighbouring town.

Ali, who oversees Bander Beyla in the restive northeastern Puntland region where pirates base most of their activities, told AFP that he sent his deputy mayor to the village to broker a deal with the abductors.

"We have sent a delegation led by the deputy [district] commissioner to start negotiations with the pirates to release the Danish hostages now being held in Hul village near Bandar Beyla," he said by telephone.

"The pirates are demanding a ransom as usual but we are trying to convince them to release the hostages without condition, promising that they will not be arrested," he added.

The Danes were seized on February 24 some 300 nautical miles off the Somali coast.

The town mayor earlier told a Danish daily that while local Somali authorities respect Denmark's wish to negotiate with the pirates, they stood ready to use force if necessary.

"The Danish diplomats are making direct contacts with the pirates and that is a ridiculously unfair procedure," Ali told AFP.

"They should make contact with the local authorities, otherwise they will make things worse for the hostages."

Jan Qvist Johansen, his wife Birgit Marie, and their three children, aged 13 to 17 years, left Denmark in August 2009 on a round-the-world trip by yacht. They had planned to return later this year. Two other friends were also on board the yacht.

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