South African Couple Freed from Somali Pirates

Posted June 21st, 2012 at 6:35 am (UTC-5)
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Two South Africans kidnapped 20 months ago by pirates off the Somali coast have been freed.

Somalia Defense Minister Hussein Arab Isse said Thursday that Somali security forces assisted in the release of the couple, who appeared at a news conference in Mogadishu on Thursday.

The couple, Deborah Calitz and Bruno Pelizzari, had been held hostage since October 2010, when Somali pirates hijacked their yacht off the southeastern coast of Africa.

The captors originally demanded a ransom of $10 million for the release of the couple. It was not immediately clear if they were rescued or if a ransom was paid for their release.

Somalia-based pirates have hijacked dozens of ships traveling near the Horn of Africa in the past five years and collected hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom.

Attacks have declined in recent months, as ships take more protective measures and naval forces patrol the coastline more closely