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Foreign Affairs

Iran frees four sailors held by Somali pirates during complex intel operation

Iran's intelligence forces have rescued four Iranian sailors from the captivity of pirates in Somalia following a complicated operation.

The sailors Masoud Balouchi, Ahmad Balouchi, Adam Balouchi and Shir-Mohammad Tabezar, kidnapped three years ago in international waters near Somalia, were welcomed by Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi in Tehran Thursday.

Alavi noted that the Intelligence Ministry put the release of the sailors on its agenda upon an order by President Hassan Rouhani who met the sailors' families during his visit to the southeastern city of Chabahar.

The intelligence operation for the release of the sailors was highly challenging as the sailors were not held by a government or an official organization, Alavi pointed out.

The operation was conducted in close collaboration with the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Iranian Foreign Ministry, the minister said.

In February 2017, eight Iranian sailors were freed from the captivity of pirates following negotiations between Senegal's embassy in Somalia and the pirates.

The eight sailors were released six months after the crew members of an Iranian fishing vessel, which fell prey to pirates in May 2016, managed to escape from the hands of their kidnappers.

Piracy used to be a major problem in the Gulf of Aden as Somali pirates frequently attacked ships, seized their cargoes and kidnapped crew members, later demanding ransom for their release. Over the past years, the threat has largely subsided after international warships were deployed to the area to protect vessels.

The Iranian Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008 to safeguard maritime traffic, especially for the country's ships and oil tankers.

Source: Press TV

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