A ransom has been delivered to Somali pirates who seized a Ukrainian ship carrying tanks, heavy weapons and about 20 crew members, a spokesman for the ship's owners said Wednesday.More here:
Mikhail Voitenko did not say how much was paid, but Russia's ITAR-Tass news agency put it at $3.2 million. The pirates originally demanded $20 million.
The MV Faina carrying a cargo of tanks, other weaponry and about 20 crew members was seized by bandits in September off the Somali coast. The hostages include 17 Ukrainians, two Russians and a Latvian.
"The ransom has been delivered to the Faina. The owners of the ship so far don't want to comment on this, but I'm getting information on this just about every half-hour," Voitenko said in comments on Russian TV. "A pile of pirates are counting the haul on the Faina. I hope that nothing will be disrupted and the sailors will soon be able to disembark."
Voitenko did not answer repeated phone calls seeking further comment.
A person involved in the negotiations told The Associated Press that a plane carrying the ransom left Kenya's capital, Nairobi, Wednesday afternoon and dropped it on the Faina. The man spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Normally Somali pirates take time to confirm their ransom, using money-counting machines and verifying the cash is genuine. Once they do that, they then release the vessel they are holding.
The person involved in the negotiations said the ship could be released Thursday. But the pirates holding the Faina have in the past given dates for releasing the vessel, only for those to pass without any word or explanation.
After having received a ransom of $3.2 million, Somali pirates will finally release within hours the Faina, a Ukrainian cargo ship captured off the coast of Kenya in September.
It is expected that the Faina will be heading for Kenyan port of Mombasa for unloading soon.
“There are about a hundred pirates onboard Faina now. They came to count money and to share it. As for the final release of the ship, we have to wait for several hours more, and after that Faina will proceed to Kenya’s Mombasa,” said Mikhail Voytenko, one of the negotiators.