An Iranian sailor said to have been in the hands of alleged Somali pirates for than 4 years was on Saturday freed, a humanitarian group said.

Hostage Support Partnership, a humanitarian group seeking to release forgotten hostages in Somalia said Mohammad Sharif Panahandeh was “seriously ill” and has been freed on humanitarian grounds.

“He’s severely malnourished. He lost a huge amount of weight. It reminded me of someone who’s just been released from Belsen [a Nazi] concentration camp,” Steed said.

Shariff is also suffering from “severe stomach problems and internal bleeding,” Steed added.
In a statement announcing the release of the man, the group said Somali community had been playing role in negotiations with the alleged pirate men

According to the group, Shariff arrived in Addis Ababa on an Ethiopian Airlines flight from the city of Garowe.

He will receive some medical care in Ethiopia before being flown home to Iran, Steed said.

Shariff was captured with three other men in March 2015 after an attack on the Iranian fishing vessel FV Siraj.

The release of Mohammad Shariff Panahandeh means just three hostages remain in the custody of Somali pirates, according to the Hostage Support Partnership, the charity that negotiated his release

Steed said no ransom was paid for Shariff, but that the pirates were likely to try to hold out for large sums before letting the other three go.

The government of Iran has not yet commented on the release of the Iranian sailor.


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