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Iranian Man Held For Years By Somali Pirates Freed

The Iranian man was one of a number of fishermen captured by Somali pirates in 2015. (file photo)

An Iranian man held hostage by Somali pirates for four-and-a-half years has been released and is on his way home, according to a humanitarian group.

A statement on September 11 by the Hostage Support Partnership says Mohammad Sharif Panahandeh had become increasingly ill and couldn't have survived much longer.

The organization said he was one of four remaining hostages held in Somalia. Their Iranian fishing vessel was captured in March 2015.

The statement says Panahandeh will return to Iran in the coming days after medical tests, adding that the three remaining hostages are being held in "appalling conditions."

Piracy off Somalia has dropped in recent years after a multinational patrolling effort.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and dpa