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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Somali pirates free small tanker

Reported here:
Somali pirates have freed a ship and its crew after holding them hostage for almost one month off Somalia's northeast coast, a maritime official said on Saturday.

The Maltese-owned San Carlo tanker, carrying a 24-member Greek crew and a cargo of gas, was hijacked on October 20 in the Indian Ocean as it made its way from Bahrain to South Africa.

"We have information that the vessel was released yesterday and we believe that it is making its way to its original destination which is South Africa," said Andrew Mwangura, programme coordinator at the Kenyan Seafarers' Association.

"We don't know whether any ransom was paid, but I am sure that some compensation would have been given to the captors for them to release the ship," he told Reuters in Nairobi.

According to the International Maritime Bureau, there have been at least 25 hijackings and attempted seizures of vessels by Somali pirates since March.

There are still six ships being held along with their crews by pirates and at least five ships have been attacked weeks in a sharp rise of banditry in the busy Indian Ocean corridor off the coast of the East Africa.

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