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Somali pirates free British yacht couple

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Captive describes hijack
  • Paul and Rachel Chandler were seized from their yacht last year
  • "They are physically and mentally doing well," a local leader says
  • It is unclear whether a ransom was paid for their release

(CNN) -- A British couple kidnapped by pirates has been released after more than a year in captivity, Somali leaders said Sunday.

Paul and Rachel Chandler were seized from their yacht in October last year, just after they set sail from the Seychelles Islands for Tanzania.

"They are physically and mentally doing well, and excited to be alive," said Mohamed Aden, a local elder in Adado. "Paul and Rachel Chandler are safe and doing fine. They have had a good shower and they are eating breakfast."

Aden was one of the key elders involved in helping secure their release.

Gallery: British couple's pirate ordeal
UK couple kidnapped by pirates
Hostage couple's last movements

Last year, Paul Chandler pleaded for their life in a two-minute video broadcast on Britain's Channel 4. He was surrounded by armed men pointing weapons at him.

British couple's plight as pirate captives

At the time, Chandler said the captors could kill them if a $7 million ransom were not paid.

"We are concerned that these people will lose patience and will not feed us -- and I have no doubt that they will not hesitate to kill us, perhaps within a week or so of now if there is no response," he said. "So, please somebody get in touch. Otherwise we just sleepwalk to a tragic ending."

It was unclear whether a ransom was paid for their release.

Last year, British officials refused to pay a ransom or negotiate with pirates.

"The government will not make substantive concessions for hostage takers, including the payments of ransom," the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement.

Pirates have been very active off the east coast of Africa in the past several years, operating out of lawless Somalia.