Somali pirates release Bermuda-flagged ship

20:51, May 11, 2010      

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Somali pirates have released a Bermuda-flagged cargo ship which was seized in March in the Gulf of Aden with 25 crew members on board, a regional maritime official confirmed on Tuesday.

Andrew Mwangura, the East Africa coordinator of Seafarers Assistance Program (SAP), said the Virgin Islands-owned cargo ship MV Talca which was released on Tuesday has 23 Sri Lankans, one Filipino and one Syrian. "The pirates released the vessel on today (Tuesday). I have not established whether ransom was paid," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone from Mombasa.

The 479,800 cbm reefer Talca was hijacked in Gulf of Aden on March 23. "It's a cargo vessel, Bermuda flagged and managed in Britain," Mwangura said.

The ship was en route to Bushier, Iran, from Sokhna, Egypt. It has a dead weight of 11,055 tons. The hijacking took place about 120 nautical miles off the coast of Oman and 180 miles south of Mazera.

The vessel was seized after passing through the International Recommended Transit Corridor, which is patrolled by warships and maritime patrol aircraft from EU NAVFOR, NATO, the Combined Maritime Forces and other navies.

The Horn of Africa nation's coastline is considered one of the world's most dangerous stretches of water because of piracy.

Somalia is at the entrance to the Gulf of Aden, which leads to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, one of the world's most important shipping channels.

The country has been plagued by factional fighting between warlords and hasn't had a functioning central administration since the 1991 ouster of former dictator Mohammed Siad Barre.



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