Bangladesh contacts with 'intermediaries' to rescue the hostages

Abu Azad, Staff Correspondent Published: 17 March 2024, 10:21 PM | Updated: 18 March 2024, 02:26 PM
Bangladesh contacts with 'intermediaries' to rescue the hostages
Photo Collected

Communication has started with the 'intermediary' individuals and organizations in the rescue of 23 Bangladeshi sailors held hostage by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. Kabir Group, the owner of the hostage ship MV Abdullah, and the relevant government departments have already contacted several such organizations. However, the pirates have not yet communicated about the ransom or the release of the hostages.

On Sunday evening, Kabir Group's media advisor Mizanul Islam said, "There are several 'intermediary' individuals and organizations around the world in rescuing hijacked ships and hostage sailors off the coast of Somalia. Although the bandits have not yet contacted. But we contacted them a little earlier. If there is any proposal from the pirates, so that we know it."

However, the company is not yet willing to disclose how many companies have been contacted in this regard. Mizanul Islam said, "I am not saying this specifically. They also could not tell us anything. Because no one has been contacted by the pirates yet."

He said, "Basically, the bandits themselves are not safe yet. So they keep changing places. Maybe after some time to settle, they will contact us. Because it is their business, the ship is hijacked for ransom."

Speaking about their preparations to rescue the hostage sailors, the official of Kabir Group said, "At this moment we are only trying to rescue the sailors alive. Rescuing the ship is the next matter."

The insurance company has also been contacted on behalf of SR Shipping as ransom will be needed to free the sailors, he added.

Meanwhile, the head of the maritime affairs unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, retired Rear Admiral Khurshed Alam, said that a European Union ship had sought Bangladesh's permission to go into action the moment MV Abdullah came under the control of the pirates. However, the Bangladesh government did not allow the action due to fear of loss of life of sailors, crew, and others.

He said, "We are negotiating how to rescue the ship in a peaceful manner without harming the sailors and crew."

The official of Kabir Group, Mizanul Islam, raised the issue of trying to send food to the hostages in different media and said, "How can we send food where we have no contact with them?" Besides, there is no record that pirates have killed any hostage without providing them food in the history of the last 14 years.

Bandits increased surveillance

Meanwhile, it is known about the news of the families of the hostage sailors that the sailors are no longer in direct contact. However, many have informed their families about their condition in small messages. The sailors were reported to be fine until last reported (8 pm).

However, unnamed sources said the pirates have been cracking down on the sailors since the raid by Indian forces on the pirate ship Rouen. Meanwhile, sailors are fasting.

However, the media advisor of Kabir Group, Mizanul Islam, did not agree to comment on this matter.

The process by which pirates collect ransom

Pirates collect ransom from ship owners in US dollars. They prefer two methods to pay the ransom. One of them is that the ransom money has to be dropped in a waterproof bag from a private helicopter. Or a bag full of money has to be sent from a big ship to a small boat. Sometimes the ransom has to be delivered to the pirates by parachute. The whole process is done through an international mediation agency. Most of them are US and UK-based companies.

Sakhawat Hossain, general secretary of the Bangladesh Merchant Marine Officers Association, said, "The pirates take the risk and collect the ransom, but three parties suffer. First, a share in the hands of those who rob ships. This team gets 30 to 35 percent of the original amount. Secondly, intermediaries and transport companies engaged in delivering the ransom money. A large part goes to the main dacoits, who run the whole cycle.”

Earlier on Tuesday, the Bangladeshi ship MV Abdullah was captured by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean around 1 pm (Bangladesh time). At that time the ship was located 570 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia. Some 23 Bangladeshi sailors and crew were taken hostage by the bandits. The Bangladeshi ship has been anchored 4 nautical miles off Somalia's Godabjiran coast for the past two days.