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Sri Lankans seek $1M to free captured crewmen

Sri Lankan religious leaders have joined with the families of seven crewmen held by Somali pirates to launch a fundraising drive to pay a ransom of more than $1 million for their release.

Buddhist, Catholic and Muslim clergy and the families made a joint appeal to Sri Lankans on Monday to contribute to the fund.

The Malaysian-owned MV Albedo was hijacked in November 2010 in the Gulf of Aden as it was sailing to Kenya. The pirates released seven Pakistani crew members last week after their families and other groups paid $1.1 million for their release. The pirates had earlier agreed to free all 22 crew for $2.85 million.

The crew members still held by pirates consist of seven Sri Lankans, six Bangladeshis, one Iranian and one Indian.