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British couple kidnapped by Somali pirates appear in new video pleading for help

LONDON (AP) — A British couple kidnapped by Somali pirates more than six months ago appeared in a video Wednesday appealing to the new U.K. government to secure their release.

Paul and Rachel Chandler were kidnapped Oct. 23 when armed pirates seized their 38-foot (11.6-meter) yacht in the Indian Ocean as they sailed toward Tanzania.

In the newly disclosed video, excerpts of which were broadcast by Britain's Channel 4 News and ITV News programs, the couple pleaded for help from Prime Minister David Cameron.

"As the new prime minister, we desperately need him to make a definitive public statement of the government's attitude to us," Paul Chandler, 60, said in the video, which Channel 4 said was filmed a week ago by a Somali reporter.

"If the government is not prepared to help, then they must say so because the gangsters' expectations and hopes have been raised by the thought of a new government, (that) there might be a different approach," Chandler said. "If the government can help, and I think they should, then we would welcome that and would they please do so."

The pirates have demanded a $7 million ransom.

Britain's Foreign Office said the policy against paying ransoms has not changed since the new government took office earlier this month.

"The U.K. government's policy of not making or facilitating substantive concessions to hostage-takers, including the payment of ransoms, is long-standing and clear. This has been the policy of successive governments and has not changed," the Foreign Office said in a statement.

Pirates have held the Chandlers in Somalia, near the town of Haradhere, but recently fled into a forest following an attempt by an al-Qaida-linked militant group to seize pirate strongholds.

The pirates have threatened to abandon the couple if militants close in, and said the al-Shabab group had offered to pay $1.8 million for the Chandlers.

"They don't understand that we are just ordinary people," Rachel Chandler, 56, said in the video. "They think we come from a rich country and that if they point a gun at us and threaten us that we will find a way of raising money."

Her husband appeared to suggest they had been mistreated. "This is not piracy and must not be reported as such," Paul Chandler said. "It is kidnapping and extortion and even torture."

The couple appeared healthy and unharmed in the video.

In March, Somali's deputy parliamentary speaker, Mohamed Omar Dalha, said Somali communities inside and outside the chaos-wracked country had been working to negotiate the couple's "unconditional release," and predicted they would be soon freed.

"We again urge those holding Paul and Rachel to release them safely, immediately and unconditionally," the Foreign Office said in its statement.