Chennai: A year after their abduction by Somalian pirates, 28 Indian sailors on board two ships have been released and will sail for home, bringing huge relief to their families.

Shipping Minister GK Vasan made the announcement here, saying the government secured the release of the sailors on board the two vessels due to coordinated efforts of the Ministries of Shipping, External Affairs, Defence, Home Affairs, Director General Shipping and other agencies.

"I am very happy to announce the release of Indian seafarers. Due to coordinated actions of Ministry of Shipping, External Affairs, Defence, Home Affairs, Director General Shipping and other important agencies, yesterday we could get release of two vessels MV Royal Grace hijacked in March 2012 and MT Smrini hijacked in May 2012," Vasan told reporters.

He said 17 sailors on MV Royal Grace and 11 on board MT Smrini would return home this week Observing that piracy near coastal Somalia is a cause for concern, he said the government has been taking utmost care to deal with the issue. "Our primary concern is to bring back our sailors home safely."

Vasan pointed out that nine Indian sailors were still being held captive by Somalian pirates and the government would continue its efforts for ensuring their "safe passage". The minister declined to divulge details how the pirates' demands were met, saying "we are very concerned about the safety of the seafarers and it was done in a discreet way by Ministry of Shipping, External Affairs, Ministry of Defence and other important agencies."

(Agencies)

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