SOMALI PIRATES RELEASE SAUDI VESSEL


Somali pirates took a $3 million ransom and freed on Friday a Saudi supertanker seized in the world’s biggest ship hijacking, an associate of the gang said.

Farah Osman, speaking to Reuters from Haradheere port near where the Sirius Star had been held for nearly two months, said the pirates had wanted more money but finally agreed $3 million for the ship which has a $100 million oil cargo.

A regional maritime group confirmed the release.

“The last batch of gunmen have disembarked from the Sirius Star. She is now steaming out to safe waters,” said Andrew Mwangura, of the East African Seafarers Assistance programme, based in the Kenyan port of Mombasa.

The Sirius Star was captured in November with 25 crew members, 450 nautical miles southeast off Kenya in the boldest seizure to date by Somali pirates.

That strike, one of the most spectacular in maritime history, drew world attention to rampant piracy off Somalia that had worsened dramatically in 2008 as an Islamist insurgency fuelled chaos onshore.

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