OUR STAFF REPORTER/ONLINE
KARACHI/LAHORE - Four Pakistani crew members of the hijacked cargo vessel, Morning Glory, reached the Karachi international airport safely on Saturday from Libya while its captain, Mirza Nauman Baig, landed at Lahore.
According to details, the cargo vessel, Morning Glory, was hijacked along with the crew on March 8, 2014, by the Libyan rebels. Later, the US forces rescued the crew and handed over the Pakistani crew to the embassy in Tripoli. The five crew members, Captain Mirza Nauman Baig, Second Officer Mehdi Shamsi, Naik Zada, Atif Hassan and Muhammad Irshad, arrived in Pakistan safely.
The family members, friends and media representatives were present at the airport to receive the crew members and emotional scenes were witnessed.
Talking to media persons, Second Officer Mehdi Shamsi thanked the government for making efforts in bringing back the crew safely to their homeland.
The Moring Glory crew members added the Pakistan embassy in Tripoli and the Foreign Office officials greatly helped them. Talking about the incident, they said Libyan rebels hijacked the vessel to build up pressure to force their government to accept their demands. The vessel was attacked with 17 bombs during the hijacking and the crew faced the fear of death, they added. Shamsi, while speaking to media persons at the airport, revealed that two bombs hit ithe vessel. He added Allah Almighty had given him a new life as he had escaped death.
They said it was the blessing of Allah and prayers of the parents and friends that they had reached home safely. They revealed the pirates wanted to use them against the Libyan government.
The crew members thanked Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, Ansar Burney, social activists and the media for highlighting the incident and making efforts for the release of the Moring Glory crew.
The Morning Glory oil tanker, owned by Dubai-based Saud Shipping, set off to Tunisia on February 25, but its owners told the crew to move towards Libya. At a Libyan port, the vessel and the crew were taken over by the Libyan rebels who had stolen national oil worth $20 million and loaded it on Morning Glory in a bid to sell it.
Taking the crew hostage, the armed Libyans forced them to move the ship out of the country’s territory and sail towards Cyprus.
Captain Mirza Nauman Baig, while speaking to media persons at the Lahore airport on Saturday, refused to disclose details regarding the incident saying it could jeopardise the safety of the remaining crew members of the oil tanker still in Libya.
He said efforts were being made for the release of the other crew members. He expressed gratitude to the president of Pakistan for his help throughout this situation.
The captain also stated the chief officer, Ghuffran Marghoob, had yet to be handed over to the Pakistani authorities by the Libyan government as he was assisting the authorities in offloading the vessel.