Redbridge Somalis hail release of kidnapped Chandlers

ATTEMPTED calls to the pirates holding Paul and Rachel Chandler captive were made by Somalis living in Redbridge it has been revealed, as the British couple enjoy their first days of freedom.

Members of the borough’s Somali community have held a string of meetings since the couple were kidnapped in October 2009, in a bid to raise awareness of their plight and help negotiate their release.

Some people living in Ilford also donated money, which it is believed may have gone towards a ransom paid for the couple’s release.

Duale Yusuf, a spokesman for Somalis in the borough, said: “I met a friend who really tried to contact them.

“But as soon as we phoned them they switched off. They don’t care. They just demand money.”

The 40-year-old, of Redbridge, who says there are between 4,000 and 5,000 Somalis in the borough, added: “This has been damaging to Somalia’s reputation.

“Kids there are growing up in a warfare environment. They don’t know what’s wrong or right.”

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The couple were kidnapped while sailing from the Seychelles to Tanzania.

They were told of their impending release on Friday.

Yusuf Ahmed, 35, of Chester Road, Seven Kings, said: “We’ve spent a lot of time arranging these meetings and trying to raise money to help the Chandlers,

“I’m really happy they’ve been released.”

Issa Osman, 45, of Ilford, said: “It’s great news that they have their freedom.

“The community is very pleased because we’ve worked hard for this.”

Mrs Chandler, 60 and Mr Chandler, 56, from Kent, have told reporters they are “fine” after their ordeal, and spoke briefly of one beating meted out when they resisted attempts to separate them.