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Sailors on a ship hijacked by Somali pirates nearly four years ago were finally released on Saturday, the longest-running Somali piracy case to have been brought to an end.
The 11 crew members of the MV Albedo were facing their first hours of freedom after three years and seven months as hostages, during which their pirate captors often used torture.
The men escaped with the help of some of their pirate captors in the early hours of Friday morning and fled to a nearby village where they were taken in by government-affiliated milita, a senior Somali anti-piracy official told The Telegraph.
"Few of them had shoes, some had only their underclothes, but they managed to escape through a window and reach a place of safety," said Omar Sheikh Ali Osoble, counter-piracy focal point for the Galmudug regional administration.
"We collected them and put them in a nice hotel last night. They had air-conditioning and hot water, and all of them were so happy this morning. They were not in a bad condition, but they told us stories of their experiences which were terrible.
"Some of them were beaten very badly. Sometimes they were forced to call their people at home to say they needed money to be released, and they were close to dying, and they were beaten while they were on the telephone. All of them are so happy to be free."
Early on in the hijacking, one crewmen was shot dead by the pirates in an apparent fit of anger after negotiations with the ship