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A member of Pakistani crew, released by Somali pirates on Thursday, meets his children at Karachi airport. – Photo by Online

KARACHI: Seven Pakistani crew members of MV Albedo ship, taken hostage by Somali pirates nearly two years ago, have reached home on Thursday, DawnNews reported.

The Kenya-bound ship was hijacked in November 2010 in the Gulf of Aden.

Families of the seamen and government officials including Governor Sindh Dr Ishrat-ul-Ibad Khan, Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah and Federal Minister for Shipping Babar Ghauri were also present at Karachi airport to receive the released hostages.

Speaking at the airport, the governor said it is a happy occasion that Pakistani hostages have been released and “we are here to welcome them.”

He said these seamen faced a difficult time, and now they will be able to celebrate Eid with their families.

Speaking to media representatives, the released sailors said they were grateful to President Asif Ali Zardari, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain, the Sindh governor and chief minister, who took effective steps to ensure their release.

They said it had been very trying time for them since they had been taken hostage. They expressed happiness over their return to homeland.

Dr Ishratul Ebad said a reception has been organised at the Governor House in the honour of these sailors.

Earlier, Negotiator Ahem Chinky said that seven crew members of a Malaysian-owned ship are heading home to Pakistan under a partial ransom deal that still leaves 15 merchant seamen held.

Chinky said Pakistani families and groups raised $1.1 million for the release of the crew members from the MV Albino. But that fell short of the $2.85 million sought by the pirates under a deal reached earlier this year by Dubai-based intermediaries.

The remaining crew still held by pirates includes seven Sri Lankans, six Bangladeshis, one Iranian and one Indian.