Somali Pirates Free Danish Family, Crew

Posted September 7th, 2011 at 10:00 am (UTC-5)
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Somali pirates have released a Danish family of five and two Danish crew members who were seized while sailing around the world more than six months ago.

In a statement Wednesday, the Danish foreign ministry said the freed hostages were safe and doing well under the circumstances.

Danish authorities did not indicate if a ransom was paid. But a witness in Somalia's Puntland region told VOA a small plane made a ransom drop in the Bari area just before the family was released on Tuesday.

According to the witness, pirates said the ransom totaled about $3 million.

Somali pirates captured the Danes on February 24, as they were sailing their yacht in the Indian Ocean.

The family has been identified as Jon Johansen, his wife Birgit Marie, and their three children, who were between the ages of 12 and 16 when they were captured.

Blog posts suggest the family knew they were running the risk of a pirate attack and had set up an action plan in case they were targeted.

While in captivity, pirates threatened to harm the hostages after a failed rescue attempt by forces from Somalia's Puntland region.

Somali pirates continue to target vessels sailing in the Indian Ocean, despite the presence of international naval patrols.

The pirates have netted hundreds of millions of dollars hijacking ships for ransom over the past few years.