Somali pirates have released a Togo-flagged cargo ship seized last week, reportedly after a ransom was paid. The 5,000-tonne Lebanese-owned MV Sea Horse was taken by gunmen on 14 April in up to four skiffs east of Mogadishu.

ransomA pirate source told Reuters news agency that they had received a ransom of $100,000 (£68,000). Pirates have intensified attacks on shipping in recent weeks in one of the world’s busiest sea lanes, despite patrols by several foreign navies.

“Somali traders were involved in the release of this ship. They mediated and paid some money. I think it was not more than $100,000,” a source told Reuters by telephone. Peter Smerdon, a spokesman for the World Food Programme (WFP), told AFP news agency the cargo ship, which was on its way to pick up food aid, had been released on Friday.

Shipping companies last year handed over about $80m (£54m) in ransom payments to Somali pirates. The Horn of Africa nation has been without an effective government since 1991, fuelling the lawlessness which has allowed the pirates to thrive.

Efforts to stop the raiders have so far had only limited success, with international naval patrols struggling to cover the vast areas of ocean where the gangs operate.



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