Page last updated at 09:11 GMT, Monday, 16 November 2009

Somalis appeal for pair's release

Paul and Rachel Chandler
Paul and Rachel Chandler were taken from their yacht on 28 October

Representatives of the Somali community in Britain have appealed to the pirates holding a Kent couple to free them on humanitarian grounds.

Messages were recorded for broadcast on the BBC World Service and Eastern TV Network after a meeting in Birmingham.

Paul and Rachel Chandler, aged 59 and 55, were hijacked on 23 October.

Somali spokesman Said Barre Nur said: "We hope the pirates will listen to our message and release them without conditions and without harming them."

The Chandlers, from Tunbridge Wells, were taken hostage by gunmen as they sailed their yacht between the Seychelles and Tanzania.

'No payment'

BBC Somali sources have since said the couple were taken to the Somali mainland.

The pirates issued a ransom demand of $7m (£4.3m) but the Foreign Office said no payment would be made.

"One of the justifications used so many times by the pirates is that the people are illegally fishing in Somali waters or dumping waste," said the spokesman for 500 Somali representatives.

"We understand that the Chandlers were not involved in anything of this nature and they were travelling innocently in international waters."

It emerged on Friday that the crew of a UK military ship watched as the Chandlers were forced off their yacht five days after the hijack but were ordered not to open fire.

The MoD said the Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker - the Wave Knight - had not wanted to endanger the couple.

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