Nine Yemeni fishermen kidnapped by Somali pirates have been freed and are sailing home, relatives told Arab News on Monday.
Late last month, Somali pirates abducted 43 fishermen off the Somali coastal district of Hafun and took them to shore. Thirty-four were released in Somalia but the pirates sailed back to sea with the remaining nine.
A relative of one of the captives said they had received phone calls from the fishermen notifying them of their release and that they were heading back to Yemen’s southern coastal city of Al-Mukalla.
“I can’t express how happy I am or how happy the abducted fishermen’s father and mother are.
“We demand a stop to piracy, and we urge Operation Prosperity Guardian (a US-led military initiative to respond to Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping) not to see any boat approaching them as an enemy and to differentiate between fishermen and Houthis,” the relative, who wished to remain anonymous, added.
They noted that Yemenis often fished Somali waters after obtaining permits from authorities there or picked up catches from Somali fisherman.
Hundreds of Yemeni fishermen have been caught by Eretria’s navy or kidnapped by Somali fishermen in recent years.
Fishing crews along Yemen’s Red Sea coast have told Arab News that the recent deployment of American-led maritime forces, coupled with Houthi attacks on ships, have made their work difficult and dangerous.
The Yemeni fishermen were released as the UK Maritime Trade Operations agency, which tracks incidents at sea, reported on Monday receiving an alert from the Red Sea about two small unidentified boats approaching a commercial ship 50 nautical miles southeast of Yemen’s port of Mocha.
And on Saturday, the agency said six vessels were spotted near to another ship in the same area.