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Somali Pirates Release Japanese Ship

Issue 349
Front Page
News Headlines
Local and Regional Affairs
Kgalema Motlanthe Sworn In as South Africa 's President
High Oil Prices Are A Threat To International Peace, Kenya President Warns
Navy Pursues Pirates Who Grab Arms Shipment
Somali Pirates' Unexpected Booty: Russian Tanks
US Should Join France And Somaliland In Combating Piracy
KULMIYE Statement On The Horn Of Africa
Features & Commentry
Shelterbox Offers Hope When Disaster Strikes
Somali Pirates Release Japanese Ship
Somali Pirates Turn Route to Suez Into `Most Dangerous' Waters
Kulmiye Leadership Should Quit Or Face History's Cruel Verdict


Kulmiye's Crisis And The Democracy In Somaliland


BOSSASO, Somalia, Sept 26 2008 - Somali pirates released a Japanese ship and its 21-member crew on Friday after a $2 million ransom was paid three months after it was captured off the coast of the lawless country, a regional official said.

"We understand that the Japanese ship, MV Stella Maris which had been hijacked on July 20, was released today after $2 million was paid," Abdulqadir Muse Yusuf, assistant minister for fisheries in Somalia 's semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland, told Reuters.

Hijackings are common in Somalia 's unpatrolled waters, where pirates normally treat their hostages well in anticipation of hefty ransoms.

Piracy has made the Gulf of Aden , a sea route used by about 20,000 vessels a year, one of the world's most dangerous waterways.

In the latest attack, pirates hijacked a Ukrainian vessel carrying more than 30 tanks and other military equipment bound for the Kenyan port of Mombasa , a significant haul for the pirates. The ship had 21 crew.

Yusuf said the pirates were expected to leave the Panamanian flagged Stella Maris on Friday but were still on board.

"The pirates are still on board because they do not want to be bombed or captured," he said, adding that several vehicles had been seen driving towards Garad, where the ship was held, to transport the pirates.

Andrew Mwangura of the Seafarers Assistance Programme told Reuters that another ship was due to be released over the weekend. He did not give further details.

Pirates are currently holding about a dozen vessels and more then 200 crew members.

An Islamist insurgence in the south of Somalia , which has not had a functioning government for 17 years, has made it difficult for the struggling interim government to police the waters. Russia said on Friday it was sending a warship to the region to protect Russian ships and citizens.

Source: Reuters

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