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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Somalia: Pirates abandon ship

Reported here - the Somali pirates holding the vessel "Golden Nori" and crew seem to have given up the ship:
Somali pirates who seized a Japanese-owned chemical tanker in October and were demanding ransom have left the vessel without hurting any of its crew, a U.S. military spokesman said on Wednesday.

The Panama-registered Golden Nori was carrying benzene from Singapore to Israel when it was hijacked on Oct. 28, just off Somalia, one of the world's most dangerous shipping lanes.

U.S. and German navy ships had cornered the vessel, opening fire and destroying speedboats the hijacked tanker had in tow, earlier this month.

"All the pirates are off the vessel. The U.S. Navy has a ship nearby. We're standing by to offer assistance," said Lieutenant John Gay of the U.S. Navy Central Command in Bahrain.

"All the crew is safe." He gave no further details on how the pirates had left the ship.

Somali officials have said there are 21 crew members on board. The U.S. Navy, which has had a long presence in the region, has concentrated its anti-piracy efforts along Somalia's central coast after several ships were hijacked there this year.

Gay said the Golden Nori was now underway to another port.

"We will escort them if necessary," he said. "Our aim was to get the pirates off the ship and ensure the crew was safe."
UPDATE (12/12/07)Reportedly, the pirates got money prior to the release...see here.

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