LONDON — A retired British couple snatched from their yacht by Somali pirates said in an interview broadcast Friday they fear they could be killed within a week or handed to a terrorist group if a ransom demand is not paid.
Paul and Rachel Chandler were kidnapped last month by pirates who seized their 38-foot yacht — the Lynn Rival — as they sailed toward Tanzania.
In an interview with Britain’s Channel 4 news program, the Chandlers are seen surrounded by armed men, some of whom have their guns pointed directly at the couple.
“I have no doubt that they will not hesitate to kill us in a week or so from now,” said Paul Chandler, 59.
Britain’s ITN — which produces Channel 4 News — said the Chandlers and their relatives had agreed that the footage, the first of the couple since their capture, could be aired.
Pirates have demanded $7 million to release the Chandlers, but Britain’s government insists it won’t pay ransom to kidnappers.
“We are under threat and we are told that we will not be fed and given water, so we are very concerned about the future,” said Rachel Chandler, 55. “We ask the government, and the people of Britain and our family, to do whatever they can to enter into negotiations with these people to buy back our lives.”
She said that the couple had been told by their captors that a terrorist cell is searching for them.
An Islamic militia commander and a local elder in the central Somali village of Bahdo said previously that rival pirates and militia groups had fought for control of the British couple.
The couple are thought to be being held north of Haradhere, a notorious pirate stronghold.
Britain’s Foreign Office said Friday that it was aware of the video, but said government policy on ransom payments was clear.
“We do not make substantive concessions to hostage takers, including the payment of ransoms. These are innocent tourists, we seek the immediate release of Paul and Rachel,” the Foreign Office said.