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Pakistani Ship Captain Describes Time as Somali Pirate Hostage

KARACHI, Pakistan — Seven Pakistani crew members arrived safely back last week to the port city, Karachi, after their release by Somali pirates. Captain Javed Saleem spoke to VOA about the nearly 20 months he spent in captivity.

He missed his wife and daughters the most, he said. Saleem was captain of the ship, Albedo, hijacked by Somali pirates as it sailed toward Kenya in November 2010.

"The pirate boat came somewhere around this area, understand, and the pirate boat they had their own ladder, a steel kind of ladder," said Saleem as he described events to his daughter.

Overpowered by armed pirates, Saleem surrendered.

He and his crew spent the next 20 months living in difficult, exposed conditions as hostages in Somalia.

“We were in the bushes and we were exposed to bare nature, there is no shelter, no shade provided, no canopy provided, all our skin was scorched,” said Saleem.

They had little food. Almost no water. They started to lose hope.

After a year and eight months, a group of donors in Pakistan paid a ransom of more than $1 million.

Saleem and six Pakistani crew members were freed. Saleem finally came home.

"That was the happiest moment of my life, for my family, to see them, and they were too glad to see me," he said.

Saleem said he has quit his career as a sea captain because life is more important.
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    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.