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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Meanwhile, back to Somali Pirates: Huge ransom demanded for release of three ships


Maybe it's inflation, but Somali pirates want $8 mln to free three ships:
Somali pirates are demanding a ransom of $8.2 million to free two Malaysian tankers and a Japanese-managed bulk carrier that they hijacked in the Gulf of Aden, a maritime official said on Tuesday. Gunmen from Somalia have seized at least 30 vessels so far this year, making the waters off the Horn of Africa nation the most dangerous in the world. On Tuesday, the Malaysian vessels' owner ordered the rest of its fleet not to enter the area. Andrew Mwangura, head of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, said the pirates wanted $4.7 million to release the Bunga Melati 5 and its sister ship, the Bunga Melati Dua, which are both owned by Malaysian national carrier MISC . He told Reuters the gangs were also demanding $3.5 million to free the MV Stella Maris, which was hijacked on July 20. "We believe all three ships are near Eyl village, where the pirates have the strong support of locals," Mwangura said.
Meanwhile, the EU is talking:
The European Union is preparing a mechanism to help coordinate protection of vessels from Somalia piracy and is considering a more beefed up operation at a later stage, diplomats said on Tuesday.

Gunmen from Somalia have seized at least 30 vessels so far this year, making the waters off the Horn of Africa nation the most dangerous in the world.

"We are setting up a mechanism to coordinate assets in the area to ensure security and allow vessels to circulate," one EU diplomat said.

"That would allow us to know which vessels are there, to organise a relay, to plan," the diplomat said, adding that the French EU Presidency hoped this could be agreed on at a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Sept. 15 in Brussels.

Another diplomat said a number of details still needed to be worked out to finalise the coordination mechanism.

Both diplomats said this mechanism would aim in particular at ensuring that World Food Program aid gets through to Somalia. They also both said that the EU was considering a more substantial operation at a later stage.
I hope the "more substantial" refers to the Gulf of Aden and some sort of shuttle escort service...

UPDATE: Shipping company MISC bans ships from Gulf of Aden.

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