Asahi reports $200,000 ransom handed to pirates.
Ransom negotiators familiar with pirates operating in the strait had expected the kidnappers to settle for around 10 million yen for each captive.
Officials at Kondo Kaiji Co., which owns the tugboat Idaten, used several channels to bargain down the ransom. They argued that giving in and paying the first sum demanded would put more Japanese ships at risk, sources said.(Eagle1 note: So why pay anything? Any payment would seem to raise the risk level for those who follow)
According to the sources, the pirates agreed to charge the same ransom for all hostages regardless of nationality. The lesser amount finally agreed to represented about one-third of what the pirates initially demanded, the sources said.
The freed hostages told reporters Tuesday at a hotel in Malaysia's Penang island that the pirates claimed to be ``fighting for independence.'' The pirates are believed to have used 12 fishing boats-seven to ferry the hostages to a hideout after the attack, and five to return them.
Ten were hoisting the Indonesian flag, adding to speculation the pirates were Indonesian nationals.
Malacca piracy: High pay (on a local scale), apparently low risk. Expect to see more kidnappings to come in these waters.