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Somali Pirates Release Seychelles Tuna Crew

Somali pirates have released seven Seychelles nationals held hostage since late March when they hijacked their ship in the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles presidency said Monday.

“All seven Seychellois hostages onboard the Indian Ocean Explorer have been released and are at a safe location in Kenya,” a statement from President James Michel’s office said.

The fate of the ship itself was unclear as the seven crew members had been brought to shore by the pirates and detained there for some time.

“Over the last 80 days, as a nation we have shared in the concern and uncertainty of the seven families whose loved ones were being held captive... And today we share in their joy,” Michel said.

The seven, as well as the government-led negotiating team, were expected to arrive in the Seychelles on Tuesday.

A source close to the presidency claimed that no ransom was paid.

The Indian Ocean archipelago has been badly hit by rampant Somali piracy, which threatens two of the small nation's main sources of income, tourism and tuna fishing.

According to Ecoterra International, an environmental NGO which monitors piracy and other illegal maritime activities in the region, Somali pirates still hold at least 15 ships as well as more than 200 seafarers.