The recent capture of a charcoal carrying ship by Soamli pirates has now resulted in a ransom demand. The amount reported has varied but this report pegs it at $150,000.
Until late last evening, gunmen continued to remain in control of the hijacked UAE-flagged MV Veesham I off the lawless coast of Somalia, demanding $150,000 ransom to release 14 crew members on board the vessel, said Ajay Kumar Bhatia, Managing Director of Duabi-based Veesham Shipping Incorporation, owners of the vessel.UPDATE: Or maybe $1 million.
“The pirates are demanding such a huge amount which in the worst scenario we would pay to secure the release of the crew members and the vessel,” he said, adding, “this will be the end of all trade ties in the future with Somalia.”
Bhatia told Khaleej Times that negotiations are on between the pirates and the Somalian government as well as Somalian businessmen to secure the release of the crew and the vessel. “Jointly with the American navy, the Somalian authorities and businessmen we are in constant touch with the vessel and are trying to talk to the pirates to release the ship and its crew and settle the demand for ransom,” he said.
He pointed out that the crew members were all safe but the anxiety was high because the ship continued to remain off the coastal waters of Somalia making it very difficult for the Somalian authorities to reach to the vessel. “Besides, the Somalian authorities also lack proper patrol boats to locate the ship in the deep sea and capture the vessel.” The crew includes two Eriterians, one Ethiopian, four Sri lankans, three Pakistanis and four Indian nationals.