Monday, February 19, 2007
A hostage returns home
Cirilo Nebit is a very fortunate man indeed.
Held with 23 fellow seamen for more than three weeks in the Niger Delta, by masked gunmen, he is now back home in the Philippines, reflecting on what a surreal month this has been for him. I met him just after he’d been reunited with his anxious family, at the
Fifty-three-year-old Cirilo has worked on ships of all types for more than 30 years. His voyage on the Baco Liner II started prosaically enough from
He describes how the gunmen were wearing few clothes, but were heavily armed with machine guns, assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade, as they stormed the ship and forced the captain to weigh anchor. Cirilo says he was terrified and thought it would be “his last day.” The men were taken off in speed boats to the rebel camp in the swamps of the Niger Delta. Cirilo says the men claimed to be from the Movement for the Emancipation of the
When asked what they did for the long three weeks they were held, Cirilo replies: “We just stayed inside, read some books, played cards and watched television."He says the gunmen promised they weren’t killers and said the sailors would be released after only a few hours. But it soon became clear that the men would be held for longer.
The seamen shared their food with the gunmen and were unharmed. Cirilo says the rebels stole some of the ship’s cargo, including explosives and even 900 tonne barges that were kept within the superstructure of the massive vessel. Cirilo says he knows nothing of the negotiations which led to their release and doesn’t know whether any ransom was paid. His family had been waiting anxiously for news in
From Dan Rivers, CNN International Correspondent
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