Page last updated at 18:42 GMT, Monday, 8 March 2010

Chandlers reunited by Somali pirates

Rachel Chandler and Mohamed Helmi Hangul
Dr Hangul said he urged the pirates to reunite the couple

A Kent couple being held by Somali pirates have been temporarily reunited, according to a doctor who treated them.

Paul and Rachel Chandler, of Tunbridge Wells, have been separated since January, the longest they have been apart during their 29-year marriage.

The Foreign Office refused to comment on the reunion, but a BBC source in Mogadishu confirmed the reports.

Earlier Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for the couple's release when he held talks with the Somali president.

Downing Street said the Prime Minister raised their case this afternoon when he met President Sharif Ahmed, who is visiting the UK.

'Tormented and worried'

Dr Mohamed Helmi Hangul, who was filmed with the Chandlers last month, told the Associated Press agency he had urged the pirates to reunite the couple, who had been held in separate locations, because they had become anxious about their separation.

He said the pirates had told him the couple were now together.

Paul and Rachel Chandler
The couple were seized while sailing from the Seychelles

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The prime minister welcomed an assurance from the president that his government was doing everything within its power to ensure their safe and swift release.

"He made clear that the Chandlers should be urgently reunited with their family.

"They agreed to continue to work closely together to secure this outcome."

In an interview in February Mrs Chandler told a Somali reporter she was "very tormented and very, very lonely and worried".

Mr Chandler described the separation as "torture".

He said: "I don't understand this. This is torture and we have never in our married life been apart this long and we have our anniversary next Sunday. We will have been married 29 years."

On Friday, Somali deputy parliamentary speaker Mohamed Omar Dalha said he hoped the couple would be freed within two weeks.

The Chandlers were captured while sailing from the Seychelles towards Tanzania in October last year.

They are among more than 130 sailors being held captive in Somalia.



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SEE ALSO
Pirate couple to be remain apart
03 Mar 10 |  Kent
Pirate couple speak of 'torment'
01 Mar 10 |  Kent
UK Somalis rally behind Chandlers
14 Feb 10 |  Kent
Yacht couple 'could die in days'
21 Jan 10 |  Kent
UK pair in captivity at Christmas
25 Dec 09 |  England
Appeal for yacht couple's release
21 Nov 09 |  Kent

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