Somali pirates release German, Egyptian vessels

15:10, June 18, 2011      

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Somali pirates have released Antigua and Barbuda-flagged and German-owned vessel, which was hijacked in April this year.

The vessel was hijacked about 200 nautical miles North-East of Salalah, Oman, a location only 35 nautical miles from the Omani coastline, a maritime official said on Friday.

The EU anti-piracy mission separately said the Somali pirates have also released Egyptian cargo ship MV Suez after its owners reportedly paid a ransom early this week.

EU Naval Force Somalia spokesman Paddy O'Kennedy said MV Suez which was seized on August 2, 2010 in the Gulf of Aden was freed on Tuesday after 317 days in captivity.

"The MV SUEZ is Panama flagged and has a crew of 23. The vessel is now heading towards a safe port," O'Kennedy said in a brief statement.

Meanwhile, the German ship, Susan K, which was pirated on April 8, was released on Thursday night.

Andrew Mwangura, the maritime editor for Somalia Report, said the MV Susan K which has a crew of 10 was released from pirate control after the owners paid ransom. "The ship was released last night (Thursday) but we have been told this (Friday) morning that the vessel is still in Somalia. The ransom was paid on Thursday," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone from Mombasa.

The Antigua and Barbuda flagged and German owned vessel was on its way to Port Sudan (Sudan) from Mumbai (India) when it was attacked.

The vessel was registered with Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa MSC (HOA) and was reporting to British Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO).

The pirates have intensified their action in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden and most of hijackings end without casualties when a ransom has been paid, but often after several months of negotiations.

The Gulf of Aden, a body of water between Somalia and Yemen, is the main sea route between Europe and Asia. Tankers carrying Middle East oil through the Suez Canal must pass first through the Gulf of Aden.

About 4 percent of the world's daily oil supply is shipped through the gulf.

The attacks are being carried out by increasingly well- coordinated Somali gangs armed with automatic weapons and rocket- propelled grenades, maritime officials said.

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.

Source: Xinhua
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