Tuesday 12 December 2017

Two Irishmen taken hostage on ship

Jason O'Brien

TWO Irish nationals are understood to be among a group of activists who sent out a mayday message yesterday after their ship was taken over in Libya.

The pair -- named as Ken O'Keefe and David Callander -- are believed to be among activists who had been attempting to break Israel's siege of Gaza as part of the 'Road to Hope' convoy.

However, their ship, the 'Strofades IV' and the 10 people onboard were taken hostage, and thought to be bound for Crete last night.

It is not clear who took the group hostage, or for what reason, although there are suggestions that the ship's captain may be protesting in a row about money.

"They are okay now," Eleanor Merton, spokeswoman for Waltham Forest Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK, told the Irish Independent.

"We have spoken to them, and they have secured access to a smoking room and are not in physical danger."

Mr O'Keefe, who was born in the US and served as a US marine but whose grandmother is from Kerry, was on the Gaza-bound 'Mavi Marmara' aid ship last May when it was targeted by Israeli forces.

Mr Callander, who is from Tyrone, was part of an aid convoy to Palestine last Christmas.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and its UK counterpart were last night urging Libyan and Greek authorities to intervene

A department spokeswoman last night confirmed that the two unidentified Irish nationals were amongst the group.

"The scene was crazy," Saeb Shaath, an aid worker who was at the port helping the charity to dispatch the aid consignment and witnessed the incident, said.

"He (the captain) broke anchor without permission to leave," Shaath. "He broke the ropes tying the ship. . . and nearly capsized the ship when when it hit the wall. There were a lot of people on that ship."

Irish Independent

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