Iran rescues 14 of its nationals from al-Shabaab in Somalia

Iranian government has rescued fourteen Iranian fishermen seized by the Al-Shabaab group in Somalia.

According to news outlets in the Islamic Republic, some of the hostages were in the hands of al-Shabaab as long as eight years.

The fishermen were abducted in international waters near Somalia and released after “lengthy negotiations with government officials, tribal chiefs and Somali elders,” the ISNA news agency reported.

They were welcomed in a special ceremony at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport on Saturday night before being transported to their southern hometown of Chabahar.

In November,  Somali police force in Galmudug said they discovered 20 foreigners — 14 Iranians and six Pakistanis.

It is not yet clear how these fishermen were rescued from Al-Shabaab fighters who had been holding them for years.

The development comes as Somali forces backed by clan militias recaptured dozens of al-Shabaab controlled villages and towns in south-central Somalia.

In over six months long operations against al-Shabaab, the government forces managed to kill hundreds of fighters in Middle Shabelle, Hiiraan and Galgadud regions.