Somali pirates release Kuwaiti crude oil tanker

09:04, June 13, 2011      

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Somali pirates have released a United Arab Emirates (UAE) flagged and Kuwaiti owned crude oil tanker with 29 crew members, a regional maritime official confirmed on Saturday.

Andrew Mwangura, maritime editor for Somalia Report said the MV Zirku which was hijacked in March, approximately 250 nautical miles southeast of Salalah in the eastern part of the Gulf of Aden was released on Friday by the pirates. "The ship was released by the pirates on Friday. I have not established whether ransom was paid or not but definitely, the ship owners might have paid since the vessel is very big," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone from Mombasa.

The MV Zirku was on its way to Singapore from Bashayer, Sudan when it was seized on March 28 by two pirate skiffs firing RPGs and small arms.

The MV Zirku has a crew of 29, including one Croatian, one Iraqi, one Filipino, one Indian, three Jordanians, three Egyptians, two Ukrainians and 17 Pakistanis.

The vessel was registered with Maritime Security Center, Horn of Africa MSC (HOA), and was reporting to The UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO).

The Horn of Africa nation has been without a functioning government since 1991, and remains one of the world's most violent and lawless countries.

Combined Task Force 150, a naval alliance based in the Gulf of Aden nation of Djibouti, is patrolling an area within the Gulf of Aden to help protect ships from pirates.

In its most successful anti-piracy operation on March 12, the Navy immobilized a pirate ship and arrested 61 Somali pirates who had been stalking merchant vessels in the Arabian Sea for more than three months.

Source: Xinhua
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