Twenty sailors held captive by Somali pirates for five months have been speaking about their ordeal as on their return home to Kiev. In one of the highest-profile kidnappings of recent times, pirates captured the Ukrainian vessel in September with its crew and a cargo of 33 Soviet-era tanks and other weapons. The crew included 17 Ukrainians, two Russians and a Latvian.
They were released along with the vessel and its crew were released after the ship’s owners paid a reported two and a half million euro ransom. “The country has turned us into heroes,” said one of the sailors. “We were simply hostages and prisoners. It’s a shame that we, adult men, could not defend ourselves. We had nothing to defend ourselves with. No one had thought of that. We were delivering cargo which we supposed to protect and defend, and we should have had weapons for that.” Controversy still surrounds the final destination of the cargo, which has docked in Mombasa in Kenya. While the ship owner along with Ukrainian and Kenyan officials claim the cargo belongs to Kenya, diplomats in the region say it was destined for south Sudan via Kenya – a potential embarrassment for Kenya, which helped broker a peace deal in Sudan in 2005.