How far is the work to rescue MV Abdullah and crew from Somali pirates?

Relatives say the ship owner has promised to bring the crew back unharmed soon

Published : 26 March 2024, 08:21 PM
Updated : 26 March 2024, 08:21 PM

Two weeks have passed since the Somali pirates seized control of the Bangladeshi-flagged ship MV Abdullah, taking its 23 sailors hostage in the Indian Ocean. 

The pirates communicated with the owner of the ship and allowed the seafarers to talk to their families. 

Officials of the company that owns the ship say that talks with the pirates to bring back the sailors have progressed although they have not yet demanded ransom. 

Kabir Group’s SR Shipping, the owner, is moving ahead in the light of a previous experience when its ship MV Jahan Moni was freed from the pirates about 13 years ago. 

Relatives of the sailors say the company assured them of bringing the crew unharmed soon. But it is difficult to say when it will be possible. 

Asif Khan, brother of MV Abdullah’s Chief Officer Atiq Ullah Khan, said: “We all hope our loved ones will be back by Eid-ul-Fitr [mid-April]. But it may take some time and we must have patience. All we want is the sailors back unharmed.” 

The seized ship has now been left anchored in the Nugal region of Somalia's Puntland province, about one and a half nautical miles off the coast of Jifal. 

A warship of the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) under Operation Atalanta is deployed nearby. 

Some believe that the release of the sailors along with the ship can be fast-tracked as the pirates have been under pressure from the Puntland police and the EU force ship. 

Talks have started with the pirates through a third party as part of efforts to bring the sailors back, said Mizanul Islam, a spokesman for Kabir Group. 

He said the company is making all sorts of attempts to rescue the ship and its crew. 

The Somali pirates captured the company’s vessel MV Jahan Moni with 25 sailors and the captain’s wife aboard. 

The pirates freed the hostages and the ship on ransom after bargaining with the company. 

It took 100 days to bring back the people. 

Kabir Group approached the pirates this time through a third party and held talks with international organisations and insurance companies. 

Experienced mariners believe the rescue operation will be easy as the owner had faced a similar situation. 

The rescue of the hostages will be much easier this time in light of the owner’s past experience,” said Anam Chowdhury, president of Bangladesh Merchant Marine Officers Association. 

The situation was not suitable when MV Jahan Moni was seized but now the situation is a bit different, he said. 

It took a long time to free the crew at that time because the pirates were very busy, Anam said, noting that they seized over 350 ships between 2009 and 2015. 

The pirates will receive whatever they get now because they have been under pressure, he added.