Taiwan hostage freed by Somali pirates ate mice, scorpions

"Every day was nerve-wracking, with the pirates pointing their AK-47 rifles at me 24 hours a day," Shen Jui-chang, among 26 hostages freed from the crew of Naham 3 seized south of the Seychelles in March 2012, said.

By: AFP | Taipei | Published:October 26, 2016 6:25 pm
Taiwan, Taiwan hostage, Taiwan hostage freed, Somali pirates, Taiwan hostage Somali pirates, Taiwan hostage freed by Somali pirates, latest world news Taiwanese chief engineer of the FV Naham 3, Shen Jui-chang (C) holds hand with son of captain Chung Wei-der (L), who died when the boat was hijacked, as Shen arrives at the airport as he was freed by Somali pirates, after a group of crew members were hold hostage for nearly five years, in Taoyuan, Taiwan October 26, 2016. (Source: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

Hostages were forced to eat mice, scorpions and centipedes to survive during the nearly five years they were held by Somali pirates, according to a Taiwanese seafarer who arrived home today. Shen Jui-chang, among 26 hostages freed from the crew of Naham 3 seized south of the Seychelles in March 2012, added he had constantly had a gun pointed at his head during his ordeal.

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Shen, the chief engineer on the fishing boat, was reunited with his wife and daughter yesterday in Guangzhou, southern China, after a long flight from Kenya with Chinese crew members after they were freed Sunday. An emotional Shen arrived at Taipei’s main airport this afternoon and said he was in “very poor physical health”.

“Every day was nerve-wracking, with the pirates pointing their AK-47 rifles at me 24 hours a day,” the frail-looking sailor told reporters. Shen had earlier told reporters the hostages were given little to eat during their four-and-a-half years in captivity and were sometimes denied water.

Shen and the other men often caught and ate mice, scorpions and centipedes, according to Taiwanese media reports. The crew, which also included seafarers from Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia, were taken hostage at the peak of Somali piracy. Only one other crew of fishermen spent longer in the hands of Somali pirates.

Three hostages died during the hijacking, including the Taiwanese captain who Shen said was shot when he attacked the pirates with a chair. Taiwan’s government has been criticised for not doing enough to secure the hostages’ release, but the foreign ministry said yesterday that efforts by the countries involved in the negotiations should be recognised.